Representational photo: Wikimedia Commons
Representational photo: Wikimedia Commons

Indian Science Congress Association to form monitoring panel

The decision came after Andhra Pradesh University's vice chancellor claimed on-stage that Kauravas of the Mahabharata were test tube babies, prompting sharp criticism from scientists

New Delhi: The Indian Science Congress Association has decided to form a committee to monitor the interactive sessions at the annual congress organized every year. The decision came after Andhra Pradesh University’s vice chancellor claimed on-stage that Kauravas of the Mahabharata were test tube babies, prompting sharp criticism from scientists.

The decision was taken during the general body meeting of the association on the concluding day of the five-day congress in New Delhi on Monday.

“We have decided that from next year, all speakers, including delegates who are invited for interaction with students, will have to submit their abstracts before. They will be strictly instructed not to deviate from what they have submitted. A member would be present to moderate all interactive sessions. A committee would be formed to monitor this," said Premendu Mathur, general secretary (scientific activities) of the Indian Science Congress.

A controversy had erupted after Andhra Pradesh University’s vice chancellor professor G. Nageswar Rao claimed that the Kauravas were “test-tube babies" during an interactive session with students during the Children Science Congress on Friday.

Rao even claimed that knowledge of guided missiles is not new to India, as Lord Rama used astras and shastras, which would chase targets and return after the attack.

The statements drew flak from senior scientists across the country, who criticized the vice chancellor for making unsubstantiated and scientifically untenable statements. The association also came under fire for lack of monitoring such statements during one of the biggest science gatherings in India, attended by scientists from across the world.

Principal scientific adviser to the centre, Dr K. Vijayraghavan, also condemned the statement, stating that the organizers do not have a filter and that the government rightly has no role in the matter. “Scientists say what they say, and if they talk nonsense, they will feel the heat from the community," he wrote in his blog. The “incident was unfortunate and the Chancellor should get a formal complaint from those who were there and he will surely hear personally from individual scientists and our very vocal science- academies."

The organizers too have distanced themselves from the unscientific statements made by the vice chancellor and condemned it.

“Our platform is so big, that it is often misused. Any statement made here is taken note of. We usually invite awardees, vice chancellors to inspire children to pursue sciences. We never expected that such kind of lecture would come up. We dissociate ourselves from any such statement and condemn it," said Mathur who is professor, department of biochemistry and molecular biology.

The Science Congress has been organized every year since 1914 with the objective of promoting the cause of science in India and inculcates scientific temperament. This is the only major annual national science event which is attended by the prime minister.

This year, the congress was attended by five cabinet ministers—including union minister for science and technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, textiles minister Smriti Irani, HRD minister Prakash Javdekar, and IT and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.

The theme for this year was Future India : Science and Technology. As many as 15,000 delegates, students and researchers from across the world attended the five-day congress.

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