Our Mission is to Attract Talented Students of the Country towards Basic Science and Research: DST Top Officials
9th Mile, Guwahati, 29 June 2018: Scientific temperament among the student community plays a pivotal role in the development of innovative research, which, in turn immensely contributes towards the progress of the country. Top officials from the Ministry of Science and Technology said that the mission of the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is to attract and nurture talented students in the age group of 10-32 years at a national level which involves academia, scientific communities, state functionaries, parents and others. The mission of DST was thus upheld by senior scientists of the Government at a two-day long National Workshop for Inspire Internship Science Coordinators coming from different parts of the country. The Workshop was organised here by the University of Science & Technology Meghalaya recently from 25 to 26 June.
Dr A Mukhopadhyay, Scientist-G & Head, R & D Infrastructure Division, DST addressed the concluding session of the National Workshop and said, “If you are serious and interested to contribute for the development of the nation, there is no dearth of fund. DST is searching visionary people in this direction who can contribute to science for development of the nation”. It is unfortunate that most of the talented science students opt for professional courses instead of studying basic science and research. India is a developing country which is lagging behind its neighbouring China and progress in the field of science and technology is must to transform our country to a developed nation.
Dr. Umesh Kumar Sharma, Scientist E at DST, called it a “national duty” to motivate students towards science and technology so that the next generation can flourish. He said that the INSPIRE Internship Camps were started in 2009 and till now 3.5 lakh students have participated in the 5-day Camps held at different locations of the country. Till now, 1,777 science camps have been set up where 15,000 mentors and 70 Nobel laureates have been engaged with these camps. Dr. Sharma in his presentation explained the internship implementation scheme to the coordinators who organise these camps.
Dr Sharma also stated that the North East component of Inspire programme has not been effective compared to the other states of the country. Only one college from Assam, one from Manipur and USTM from Meghalaya have held Inspire Camps in the entire region while a single state like Kerala has held many such Camps so far. This is the reason why DST has now taken North East seriously to inspire more students here towards science, he added.
Mahbubul Hoque, Chancellor of USTM, expressed his gratefulness to DST for choosing the north-eastern region for the first time to hold this national congregation and specially thanked for selecting USTM considering its performance and contribution in the field of science and technology. “USTM will do its best and toil to contribute in the nation building process”, he said.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Pratibha Jolly, senior scientist and Principal, Miranda House, University of Delhi said that the DST Internship Science Camp has been very much effective in motivating young minds towards scientific study and research. “We are getting very positive response from the student community. The North East of India is an important part and I hope for more young talents from this region to cultivate science as their career”, she added.
Dr Amitabha Roy, Scientist-F from DST was also present on the occasion and he said, “This is a major event of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Already we are getting fruit of it. In spite of all the challenges, we are trying to encourage young talents, stop brain drain and even bring back talents from abroad”, he said.
Senior DST Coordinator Prof. Dr. Papiya S. Nandy, formerly with Jadavpur University said, “With my experience as a convenor / fecilitator /mentor in more than 45 Science Camps, I have noticed that over the years the INSPIRE programme has made science and its application a movement in the society, more students have become scientifically aware and opted for scientific research for their career while parents have become aware and encouraging their children to pursue a career in science.
Dr Anita Agarwal, Scientist-E from DST expressed that the main objectives of the science camp are categorized under motivation, ability and goal. It aims to arouse the sense of wonder and encourage curiosity among students, tries to unlock creativity through out of box activities and self learning through hands on experts and library uses. Its effort is to help students learn to dream through role model, available opportunities and develop network of friends through group activities and residential camps.
“It is interesting that every participant in the Science Camp is encouraged to submit an idea of new innovation or discovery or research work and the students are later helped by the mentors to pursue it”, said Prof. Anwesh Majumdar, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Institute for Fundamental Research, Mumbai.
The DST members addressed queries, discussed problems and provided solutions to the delegates. Important and interesting points were made by the DST committee, such as discussing down to earth topics that enhance the curiosity among children, engaging the students with a mentor who can communicate the excitement of science to the children, providing role models to look up to and also making sure that women mentors are also present so as to assure the increasing number of girls participating in the science camps that they can also rise up to that level. Hands on experiments must be provided to the students. Moreover, parents and children both must be made aware of all the career prospects that lie ahead when one pursues science.
While over the years the number of participants has increased in the INSIPRE Camps, including a large number of girls, however the number of students actually going out and pursuing science in India is still minimal. Hence, each and every delegate, coordinator and mentor is encouraged to do their bit in spreading awareness about these kind of programmes that will help take humanity forward. The Department of Science and Technology promises to work very hard and guarantees full support towards the progress of science all over the country. The DST members thanked the USTM Chancellor and his team for their hospitality and dedication towards the development of science and technology. They also expressed high hopes from the North East and wished to see at least two camps in each of the eight states of the North East in the following months.
Scientists from different states of the country including Kerala, Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Odisha, Assam, Meghalaya, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh were participating in the Science Workshop. They shared their previous INSPIRE internship camp details and the innovative ways that they employed to capture the attention of the students such as explaining scientific ideas through cartoons, group discussions, lab visits etc. Problems faced by them were also brought forward and measures were suggested to the DST to improve the number of participants and make science more creative and interesting for the students. Among the dignitaries, Dr. N.C. Talukdar, Director of Institute of Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), Resima Ahmed, Cotton University, Debasis Chaudhaury, IASST, Semma Rekha Bhagawati, Morigoan College and Hitesh Barman, Rangia College were also present, who promised to coordinate and set up more camps in the region.