Monday, December 28, 2009

Indian Science Congress fails

to attract Nobel Laureates

of Indian Origin

Writes Vinod Varshney

Next year too there will be no Nobel laureate of Indian origin in the Indian Science Congress, scheduled to be held first time in Trivandrum from January 3. There are two living Nobel Laureate scientists of Indian origin—Dr Hargovind Khurana and Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan. Khurana got Nobel in 1968 for interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis. The other Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan won the Prize this year only "for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome".
Many Indians might remember Venkatraman for the disgust he expressed for the deluge of praise showered over him in Indian media which normally ignores Indian scientists who do significant work in India. But he might have loved to come to India during the Science Congress.
Year after year a question is asked in press conferences as to why Indian Science Congress is not able to attract Nobel Laureates of Indian origin. The organizers had never been able to give a satisfactory answer to this. Many Indians feel that no serious attempt is made to invite them.
Nobel Laureates or not, over a hundred scientists of Indian origin do come every year to take part in the Indian Science Congress which remains a popular draw for young researchers, students, engineers and doctors in India.
This year’s focal theme “Science & Technology of the 21st Century—National (Indian) Perspective” is going to be a crowd-puller as students wants to remain in touch with the relevant future technologies for their career sake. According to the organizers more than 4500 delegates have already got themselves registered.
However, the real attraction this year may be the Space Summit. The interest in space science is already heightened in Indian students after discovery of water on the moon by Indian scientists during the Indian Moon Mission—Chandrayan-I.

American Nobel Laureates to be Star Attraction

Space scientist Ms T. S. Rama Devi of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, the local secretary of the Indian Science Congress Association asserted Monday on telephone that a major highlight of the congress would definitely be the 'Space Summit' which would deliberate on future vision of space technologies and their applications. Top American Space Scientist John C Mather, a Nobel Laureate from NASA will be a mega star here.
John C. Mather had won the Nobel Prize only three years ago for Physics with George F. Smoot of the University of California for his collaborative work on understanding the Big Bang.
Another Nobel Laureate scientist who is slated to participate in the Indian Science Congress, according to Rama Devi, is Roger Y Tsien of the University of California. He won the prize along with two others for “the discovery and development of the green fluorescent protein” only last year. Green Fluorescent Protein has become a tagging tool in bio-science.

Children Science Congress To be Inaugrated by Kalam

Other than the Space Summit another significant event of the science congress will be Children Science Congress which shall be inaugurated on January 4. Former President of India known popularly as the Missile Man A.P.J. Abdul Kalam will inaugurate this. In his characteristic style he is likely to seek a promise from children that they would love the science and nation both.
The management of Children Science Congress has drawn flak in the past for the bureaucratic attitude, especially during the one held two years ago in Chidambaram where many children who came from far off places were not allowed to see Kalam who was then the President of India.