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Science Congress: Why its glory days are over

  • Published
    5th Jan, 2023
Context

The Prime minister addressing the 108th Indian Science Congress, the country’s largest gathering of scientists and students, has mentioned an urgent need for reforms in the scientific research and development of the country.

About the Science Congress:

Background:

    • With a history dating back to 1914, the Science Congress is a one-of-its-kind event in the country, bringing together scientists and researchers not just from the premier institutions and laboratories but also science teachers and professors from colleges and universities participate.
  • Edition: It was the 108th edition of the Indian Science Congress held after two years of COVID.
  • Location: It took place in
  • Organised by: The event is organized by the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA), an independent body functioning with the support of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) in the central government.
  • Fund allocation for the event: For organising the Science Congress, the government provides an annual grant, which has been increased to Rs.5 crore from this year, it used to be Rs.3 crore earlier.

Several other government agencies, like the Science and Education Research Board, also make financial contributions because the event is seen as an effort to promote science.

  • Additional resources are raised through sponsorship and fees for renting out exhibition spaces.
  • Held on: It is an annual five-day event from January 3 to 7, 2023.
  • Inaugurated by: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He reiterated his call for harnessing scientific knowledge for societal needs and making India self-reliant.
  • Significance: It offers a platform for their interaction with students and the general public on matters related to science.
  • Points discussed:
    • Areas of priority: The priority areas like disease control, management of natural disasters, space applications, waste management, new materials, and semiconductor research have been considered.
    • Declining glory of congress: In more recent times, the event has attracted attention for all the wrong reasons — lack of serious discussion, the promotion of pseudoscience, outlandish claims by random speakers, and the absence of useful outcomes.
    • Reasons highlighted: Leading scientific institutions and laboratories only have a token presence, if at all. Most attendees are from colleges and universities with limited scientific credentials.

Highlights of the event:

  • A special programme to showcase the contribution of women in science and technology will also be held with lectures by renowned women scientists.
  • The event will also see a Children's Science Congress, organised to help stimulate scientific interest and temperament amongst children.
  • The Tribal Science Congress will showcase as a platform for the scientific display of indigenous ancient knowledge systems and practices and will focus on the empowerment of tribal women.
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