Commemorating 75 glorious years of India’s independence, the government of India has declared a year-long “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” to celebrate the history of India’s people, culture, and achievements. The Mahotsav recognises the efforts of every Indian citizen who has played an instrumental role in the years leading up to the Amrit Kaal and further holds the power to realise the Prime Minister’s vision of a new and improved “India 2.0”, fueled by the endeavours for Aatmanirbhar Bharat. In line with the same, is the ongoing event “Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate” or the science week. The event was launched on 22nd February 2022, at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi.
The main objective of the science week is to celebrate India’s Scientific and Technological achievements over the span of the last 75 years. The government has adopted a pronged approach to realise the objectives of this one of a kind event. Firstly, due recognition will be given to the Indian pioneers and achievers in the field of science and technology, research and development, space, etc. by bringing the stories of these individuals to the forefront. Secondly, the government would reinforce the commitments of our scientific community towards India’s social and economic development. Lastly, the work and ideas of Research and Development organisations from around the country would be brought to the fore, as they lead science and technology endeavours on the path to Amrit Kaal.
The phrase “Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate” literally translates into “Science is worshipped everywhere”. India, in addition to being the oldest civilization in the world, is also considered to be one of the leading countries in scientific and technological innovations. India has been contributing to the field of science and technology centuries before modern laboratories were even set up. Interestingly, India has the second-largest group of scientists and engineers in the world. Thus, recognising science as an integral part of our ancient culture, the Ministry of Culture will organise commemorative exhibitions in 75 locations across the entire country to portray India’s achievements in science and technology. According to Dr Jintendra Singh, Minister of Science and Technology, the grand aim of the “Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate” is to incorporate India’s science and scientific achievements in our cultural ethos. Further, he added that under the able guidance of our Prime Minister, technology has successfully transcended all barriers, to make its way into every Indian household, and the onus now lies on us to ensure that our country benefits from the scientific breakthroughs.
India has gifted the world some of the brightest minds, several of whom have received their scientific training from our very own scientific institutions. India’s scientific laboratories, as well as scientific manpower, can compete with the best in the world. The same can be seen from the fact that today the World’s leading corporations like Alphabet, Twitter, Adobe, and Microsoft are all being headed by individuals who are either Indian or have an Indian origin. Moreover, over the span of the last two years, science and technology have played an indispensable role during the pandemic. During the Covid-19 outbreak, Indian laboratories and hundreds of our experts worked around the clock to combat the virus.
The major themes of the Mahotsav are as follows:
- ‘Annals of Science’: which would trace how contributions made by individuals of modern science have helped establish our Indian modern science and technology system.
- ‘Milestones of Modern Science & Technology: A significant discovery, innovation, or invention that has had a significant impact on global science or India's growth.
- ‘Swadeshi Paramparik Inventions & Innovations’: An invention or technology that enabled India to stand on its own two feet and aided the objective of self-sufficiency, as did modern innovations that drew on the old knowledge system's reservoir.
- ‘Transforming India’: It is well known that India is aggressively undertaking great and large-scale science and technology missions and initiatives such as Gaganyan and Samudrayan. The event, over the span of seven days, will explain one or more such Science and Technology efforts that are bold and ambitious in order to grab the youth’s imagination.
Over the years, several investments and developments aimed at making scientific progress have taken place in various sectors such as agriculture, space, and healthcare. Some notable developments amongst these are discussed below:
In October 2021 with the aim of empowering schedule caste and schedule tribes to contribute to the socio-economic development in the country the government launched 75 science and technology innovation hubs. In the same year, the government also launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA) to expedite technological developments and strengthen the country's space sector. India provides the world with a wide variety of research and development and innovation opportunities. By 2021, India will host a research and development centre for more than 70 per cent of the world's 50 most innovative companies. The 'Amrit Grand Challenge Programme' named 'JANCARE' was inaugurated in September 2021 by the Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Minister of State for Earth Sciences, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space. This programme aims to discover 75 Start-Ups using Big Data, AI, blockchain and other technologies in a variety of fields such as telemedicine, digital health, and mHealth.
With an aim to encourage scientific innovations the Government of India amended Patents Rules in September 2021, which decreased patent fees for educational institutions by 80 per cent. It is important to1 note that between the years 2014-2021, India recorded a 572 per cent rise in its patent approvals. The central government also approved the Deep Ocean Mission (DOM) in August 2021, with a five-year budget of $ 548.54 Mn to be implemented by the Ministry of Earth Sciences. The mission is a multi-ministerial, multi-disciplinary effort to develop q-sea technologies such as manned submersibles that will allow for deep-sea mining, exploration of deep-sea mineral resources, and marine biodiversity, as well as the acquisition of a research vessel to explore oceans, conduct deep-sea observations, and build capacities in marine biology research. Further, in the field of agriculture, the ICAR and the Digital India Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding on 9th June 2021, to provide location-specific demand-based tele-agriculture advisory.
According to Dr Jitendra Singh, the government is working towards achieving not just a 100 per cent literacy rate but also a 100 per cent scientific literacy rate. In line with the same, “Project Vigyan Basha” has been launched which will enable the vision of making science accessible in various Indian languages including Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Punjabi, Urdu, Kashmiri, Bengali, Assamese, and Nepali.
The establishment of a Unified Science Media Centre was also announced during the launch of this event, which will span across all departments and present recent science and technology developments to the general public, with a particular focus on research and innovation taking place in our own scientific laboratories and research institutions. According to him, the unified science media centre would cater to all types of media, including print, electronic, social, and digital media, and Vigyan Prasar, a neutral nodal organisation for science communication, has been assigned the task for the same.
The tenacity and ability to create something extraordinary from a mere thought has been one of the sources that have helped humankind to evolve. Pioneers in science and technology like CV Raman have and will continue to act as potent catalysts for ensuring change in the lives of future generations. Thus, it is quintessential that we, through Vigyan Sarvatra Pujyate, celebrate science, innovations as well as innovators, to inspire and encourage people to make contributions to the field of science so that India continues its rich legacy in the field of science, technology, and innovation.
This article is authored by Ishita Sirsikar.