Curtain Raiser for the Mega Conference of Science Communicators

A curtain-raiser for the Mega-conference on “Indian Independence Movement & the Role of Science Communicators” was organised as the prelude on 11 & 12 August 2021 at the CSIR-National Physical Laboratory (CSIR-NPL) auditorium, New Delhi, in hybrid mode.

The Science communicators Mega-Conference on “Indian Independence movement and Science” will be organised during 20-21 October 2021. The conference is a joint endeavour of Vigyan Prasar (An Autonomous Institute of the Department of Science & Technology, Govt of India), CSIR-National Institute of Science Communication & Policy Research (CSIR-NIScPR), and Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA).

Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav (celebration of 75th Year of India’s independence) is the fundamental inspiration behind this conference. The year-long Science celebrations will witness interactions at different levels through exhibitions, conferences, competitions, science films, posters, Vigyan Yatras and presentations. The motive of the conference is to inform society about the contributions of scientists during the freedom movement, their struggles and achievements.

Shri Nimish Kapoor, Scientist, Vigyan Prasar presented a snapshot of the history of science before Independence and the significant role of scientists and science communicators in building the nation.

National Organising Secretary of VIBHA, Shri Jayant Sahasrabudhe sharing the basic thoughts behind organising Amrit Mahotsav said, “We should not only limit our celebrations to the freedom fighters who sacrificed their lives for the Independence but need to remember the vision of those great scientists who stood for their scientific thinking even during the adverse situations.” 

He highlighted the contributions of Dr Mahendra Lal Sarkar, who had set up the first scientific association in India, and that of Acharya Praful Chandra Ray, known for setting up the chemical industries and Jagdish Chandra Bose, who protested against the Britishers by not taking the reduced salary.

Dr Shekhar C. Mande, Director General of CSIR was the Chief Guest at the curtain raiser event. He emphasised that every citizen of India should develop a scientific temper as per the provision mentioned in the Constitution of India 51 (h).

Prof. Ranjana Aggarwal, Director, CSIR-NIScPR and the National Convenor of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav listed out the year-long calendar of celebrations to promote science. The programmes include the Science and Technology in India Conference on August 16-18, Teachers Congress for Schools and Colleges on Nov 11-12, Academic Leaders Conference for Vice-Chancellors, Directors of IIT, IIM, UGC, AICTE and other National Institutes on January 12, International seminar on the World Science Day February 28 by JNU, VIBHA and NIScPR, Vigyan Yatra, Exhibition on Wheels to display Audio-visuals and posters, Science film festival, Architect models, literature fair, etc. 

Prof Sanjay Dwivedi, Director of Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) stressed upon the lifestyle of PC Ray as ‘Simple living and scientific thinking’ and emphasised the use of science for the welfare of the community and not earning alone. He referred to the slogans of Ch. Charan Singh “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’, modified by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee as “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan’ and recently improvised by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji as “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan, Jai Anusandhan’.

Ms Kiran Chopra, Director of Punjab Kesari, Hindi Newspaper, offered to set separate space for Science articles and news every Friday. She highlighted the role of various freedom fighters in disseminating information through leaflets during the freedom movement which later took the shape of a newspaper.

Prof. K.G. Suresh, Vice-Chancellor, Makhanlal Chaturvedi University of Journalism stressed upon the need to have a compendium of scientists, who played the role of a catalyst to change the mindset of the general public in the freedom struggle. He also suggested that the message of the scientists’ contributions must be shared with the young generation in the form of comics and animation. Prof. Suresh joined this event virtually.

Shri Omkar Rai, Director General, Software Technology Park of India and National Secretary, Vijnana Bharati, said that we cannot be self-reliant unless we have self-esteem and such conference can create a feeling of self-esteem, confidence and pride among the public towards the contributions of scientists and science communicators.

In the end, the vote of thanks was proposed by Dr Arvind C. Ranade, Scientist with Vigyan Prasar. The curtain-raiser was attended by around 70 people in person following the COVID protocols and hundreds of science lovers witnessed this event virtually.