News by YKA Staff:
Like last year, a selection of papers with mythological overtones created a controversy at the Indian Science Congress held at the Mysuru University, Mysuru, Karnataka.
The ISC began on 3rd January this year, after it was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It ended today (7th January) and was attended by 12,000 odd participants.
The most controversial aspect of this year’s ISC was the scheduled presentation of a paper on Lord Shiva, eulogising him as an “environmentalist.” The paper was scheduled for presentation yesterday (6th January). Akhilesh K. Pandey, who is the chairman of the Madhya Pradesh Private Regulatory Commission, was to present the said paper, according to reports.
However, in a curious turn of events, he was unable to present the paper. The Business Standard, which also reported on the issue, noted that the reason for Pandey not showing up to present the paper was unknown.
But Mint reported that “Pandey suffered an unfortunate accident on a staircase and could not present the lecture.”
Nevertheless, the mythological flag was held aloft by Indian Administrative Services officer Rajeev Sharma, who presented a paper on the “health benefits” of blowing a conch. His claims were received with incredulity by a “gasping” audience, the TOI reported.
Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, who teaches at Cambridge University, UK, has already derided the ISC as a “circus.” The TOI quoted the structural biologist as saying that “(the ISC is) an organization where very little science is discussed. I will never attend a science congress again in my life.”
Ramakrishnan’s statement was rebutted by Manjul Bhargava, award-winning mathematician from Princeton, who attended the ISC. The TOI quoted him saying that the current edition was “better.” Ramakrishnan’s statement also divided the scientific community over the worth and relevance of the ISC.
In yet another controversy on the day of the inauguration itself, the PM declined to award Vijnana Bharati, an RSS-backed group ostensibly promoting science in the country. The award was apparently to be given for organising the “largest science class in the world.”
Last year’s edition of ISC was marred by the controversy over the presentation of a paper claiming that Indians knew how to fly planes in ancient times.
This year’s ISC saw scientists from abroad hailing India’s contribution to particle physics. Male infertility was another topic which was discussed at one of the sessions. An attempt was also made to publicise scientific findings by women at the ISC.
It is unfortunate that such controversies are derailing the organisation of the ISC which also provides young students with a platform to showcase their experiments and allows them, along with the general public, to listen to Nobel Laureates and other scholars holding forth on important scientific discoveries and other issues.