Mangaluru: A 3-day national level workshop ‘Science in Action’ was organised by the Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Microbiology, Physics and Zoology, St Agnes College (Autonomous) in collaboration with Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Pilikula Regional Science Centre here at the college auditorium on January 8, 2015. The workshop is sponsored by the Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India.
The programme began with an invocation. Prof Sr M Supriya AC Principal of St Agnes College welcomed the gathering. The guests for the day were Dr K V Rao (Director, Pilikula Regional Science Centre, Mangaluru, D.K.), Prof. U R Rao (Padma Bhushan, Former Chairman, ISRO / Secretary, Dept. Of Space, Govt of India and Chairman, Karnataka Science & Technology Academy, Bengaluru), Dr P Chowdappa (Director, ICAR – Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasargod) and Nigam B Vasani (President, KCCI, Mangaluru). The guests were welcomed with flower bouquets.
Dr H Jayantha, the convenor of the programme, introduced the guests to the gathering. He also prayed that new scientists be born today, since it is the birthday of well-known theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking.
The programme was inaugurated by lighting the traditional lamp by Dr K V Rao along with the other dignitaries on the dais. Prof U R Rao was felicitated on the occasion.
Addressing the gathering Prof U R Rao said, “Since the space age began, things have changed tremendously, so dramatically that space has became the most important field on this Earth. There is nothing like space science. Infact when you say space science, you talk about all the branches of science, economics, etc. This field is going to change the world. We will be able to live on Mars. When it will happen, I don’t know.” He spoke about how the situation was before communications satellites were launched and how it is in the present by citing an example of the first communication between his wife and her father after they had reached MIT in US during the 1960s. “After 2 and a half days, we got to make a telephone call. My wife said ‘Hello father’ and received reply ‘Hello daughter’ and that was the end of the call. But today everybody can call anywhere, anytime. And it’s all because of the advances in space. We got into the space field for the development of the country. Infact, we knew very well that the only thing that could save this country is space.”
Dr P Chowdappa spoke on how science and agriculture play a role in nation building. “Science was, is and will be in action. The schemes introduced by the Prime Minister like Swachch Bharath, Make in India are related to science.” Recalling Nehru’s quote ‘Everything can wait, but not agriculture’, he said that a little investment in agriculture could have a large improvement for the country. “Agricultural business can revolutionize the country. Youngsters need to get into the agricultural field.”
When Nigam Vasani got onto the podium, he requested all gathered to give a standing ovation to Prof U R Rao. He expressed his feeling of nervousness sitting next to persons of such stature and achievements. He said, “Science is the effective way of doing things and business is the economic way of doing things. When both come together, it’s a win-win situation. On the other hand, business to be successful must be based on science. Every good technology in business depends on a solid foundation of science and mathematics, from music to manufacturing, food to fashion, every industry in our economy is being revolutionised by science and technology.”
K V Rao in his presidential address spoke about the challenges faced by science in nation building. “Science for nation building is the mantra today.” Who is responsible for science courses not being popular today? he questioned. “The problem is men. Or women, or women or men, whichever order you want to think. The real challenge is that the very exercise of teaching science, communicating is becoming more of a challenge. And therefore careers in science which are plenty have no takers. Because they are not equipped, they don’t have skills. What was called conventional teaching has to undergo drastic changes and then there should be a commitment. A commitment that they do this for nation building. They have to do this because India has to be in the map of the world at the top. In maths and science shortcuts are difficult. Difficult because the way in which we are proceeding now requires drastic changes in the system and therefore science courses today are not so attractive.”
Dr Geetha Nazreth delivered the vote of thanks. Dr Ita Gonzales compered the programme.