National Science Day is celebrated in India on February 28 each year to mark the discovery of C.V. Raman. The episode is venerated in honor of Sir C.V. Raman for his bequest and discovery of the Raman consequence on February 28, 1927, for which he was, rewarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. On that day in 1928, Sir C.V. Raman proclaimed the innovation of the Raman Effect. For this, he was granted the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1930.
The Raman Effect led to the escalation of a new discipline, Raman Spectroscopy, which has now urbanized into an influential tool for an extensive variety of precise investigations and business applications. He takes the credit of the first noble prize winner from India. Even today there are so many across the globe extracting exciting new results from his discoveries. The impact of Raman's effect can be felt in every field of science. It has played a significant role in the field of spectroscopy, medical diagnostics and material characterization.
Under the Ministry of Science and Technology, Rashtriya Vigyan Evam Prodoyogiki Sanchar Parishad which is also known as National Council for Science & Technology Communication conducts various events and programs on science related topics. The celebration is not confined to any particular area for it takes place throughout the country. This day gives us an opportunity to thank all the scientists for their remarkable contributions and dedication in this field. Hence the National Science Day holds great significance for Indian Science and scientific community. There are science exhibitions and fairs conducted all over the country where even the visitors can interact with the science fraternity and perform science-based experiments and activities for the mutual benefit.
Apart from this even colleges and schools on the National Science Day conducts activities like debates, quiz competitions, exhibitions, lectures,etc.The celebration of this day is of great motivation to the upcoming generations. The National Science Day also accelerates the pace of development in science and its related field. Every year a different theme is selected and all the forth programmes and activities are based around that theme.
History of National Science DayIn 1986, the NCSTC asked the Government of India to designate February 28 as National Science Day. The event is now celebrated all over the country in schools, colleges, universities and other academic, scientific, technical, medical and research institutions. On the occasion of the first NSD (National Science Day)(28 February 1987) NCSTC announced institution of the National Science Popularization awards for recognizing outstanding efforts in the area of science communication and popularization.
In the year 1928 when Sir C.V.Raman was working with the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science, Kolkata.During his period of research there he discovered the phenomenon of an inelastic scattering of a photon which is popularly and scientifically called as Raman Effect. He was the first from India to win the prestigious Noble Prize for his achievement in the field of science. Hence this day is considered to be an important day in the field of Indian Science and scientific community. After so many years later in 1986 the National Council for Science & Technology Communication, asked the Government of India to designate February 28 as National Science Day. However the first National Science Day was observed on February 28th 1987.Apart from this the National Council for Science & Technology Communication announced that there will be National Science Popularization awards for those who excel and put outstanding efforts in science and its related field. These awards are given since 1988.
Need for bold initiativesWhile India celebrates Science Day and remembers the contribution of Raman, it is also an opportunity to take stock of the status of science in India. Such introspection is necessary as science and technology have become the most important drivers of the economy of a nation. Information Technology and Biotechnology are two live examples of knowledge-based industry. With globalization and the WTO in place, those countries, which do not update themselves with the latest scientific and technological advancements, would fall behind. Technology has changed the business models of companies across the world.
Since Independence, India has travelled a long distance in research and development activities. Our scientific and technical manpower is amongst the largest in the world. Two scientists of Indian origin, Hargobind Khorana and S. Chandrasekhar, have won Nobel Prizes in Medicine and Physics. It is difficult to find a good university or research institute of repute in the US, where Indians are not working at the top positions.
There are, however, a few disturbing trends which need immediate attention. First, good students, undergraduate and graduate, have started moving away from sciences - Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology. Instead, Economics, Commerce, Engineering and Medicine are the coveted subjects. Those who do join sciences keep looking for a changeover at the first opportunity to more lucrative disciplines.
Not many go willingly for doctoral programmes. Jobs in sciences are few and pay packets low. Even after Ph.D., which takes about four years, and perhaps after another few years of post-doctoral research, the best prospect is a university lectureship fetching about Rs 15,000 a month. In comparison, a clerk in a good bank or private sector organisation would be getting a better deal.
Secondly, the universities have become teaching colleges, research having taken a backseat. As a result, students of universities hardly have exposure to frontline research work; they lack motivation to take up a career in research. Those who wish to stay in sciences prefer to go to research institutes for Ph.D. By contrast, in all the advanced countries, the universities contribute to good quality research. Most Nobel Prizes have been won by university professors. In India, however, most universities have shifted undergraduate teaching to affiliated colleges. Good teachers and well-known scientists can play a crucial role in shaping up the vision of the students.
Thirdly, research institutes also need improvement. They should be made truly autonomous and professionally managed with more accountability. An effective system of rewarding good researchers should be evolved. Some institutes should be converted into research universities with small undergraduate and graduate programmes, so that they can also contribute to manpower development.
Fourthly, the view that research in basic sciences is not important as it is of little utility to India is short-sighted. Good technology cannot flourish without good science. Fifthly, the universities face acute financial crisis. Some argue that higher education should not be subsidized, the quality of teaching is not up to the mark and there is considerable wastage in the system. The universities themselves are unable to raise resources by way of increasing fee and user charges. Governments are unable to support them to the desired extent due to budgetary constraints. The result: these institutions are unable to keep pace with the changing times.
Sixthly, there is a need to look at the structure of universities, most of them being affiliating institutions. They suffer from the huge drag of the affiliated colleges. The biggest casualty is quality of education. Should we not try to move towards the system of unitary universities?
And finally, the time has come for inter-disciplinary research and education. Our university systems have become water-tight compartments within a department and people do not interact amongst themselves. We continue to promote very specialized institutions such as medical colleges, engineering colleges, agricultural universities, etc., whereas the scholars of leading institutions elsewhere are trying to collaborate with each other and promote all branches of knowledge. For instance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology is well known for Physics, Economics, Biology and Medicine!
We need to bring about reforms in higher education. Research in basic sciences and technology should be liberally funded by the government. We should allow good private universities to generate competition for government-funded universities and research institutes.
Career scientists should be paid well and working conditions improved. We need to formulate a comprehensive strategy and implement it with vigour. India should also aim for at least one Nobel Prize during the next 10 years for the work done here. Let us pledge to repeat Raman.
Apart from the recognition of Sir C.V.Raman's meritorious service there are so many objectives behind the celebration of the National Science Day.Inspite of various developments in the field of science and technology; there is still a portion of the society deprived of all the developmental issues. Thus the National Science Day spreads the message of importance of science and its applications in various fields. It gives an opportunity to bring issues of science on to center stage.
The role of science on human welfare in various concerns like disease eradication, energy production, space exploration, environmental issues, information technology etc. are emphasized on this day. The impact or the influence of biotechnology in various fields like agriculture, health, environment, industry and pharmaceuticals is highly significant. Science has done wonders in Communication at a much lower cost. The day motivates to inculcate scientific temper among the school children. The scientific community on the National Science Day talks about the various steps taken by the department so that even the future generations participate in it. With such efforts even the public can take part and be updated with the emerging issues of immediate concern.
Celebrations and EventsVarious programs are conducted focusing on Science as the main objective. There are remarkable program which are organized by various departments. Science exhibitions and fairs conducted all over the country where even the visitors can interact with the science fraternity and perform science-based experiments and activities for the mutual benefit. Eminent scientists of the present day give seminars on the most happening subjects of the science. Science exhibitions where activities like debates, quiz competitions, exhibitions, lectures, etc. are conducted by the students in schools and colleges. The celebrations of this day include showcasing the country's competence in the field of science. The celebration also includes awards for people who have worked for various achievements in the field of science and technology.
There are themes based on which the activities and events of the National Science Day is planned. These themes are decided by the Rashtriya Vigyan Evam Prodoyogiki Sanchar Parishad.The themes for the past ten years are
- 2001: Information Technology for Science Education
- 2002: Wealth from Waste
- 2003: 50 years of DNA & 25 years of IVF - The blue print of Life
- 2004: Encouraging Scientific Awareness in Community
- 2005: Celebrating Physics
- 2006: Nurture Nature for our future
- 2007: More Crop Per Drop
- 2008: Understanding the Planet Earth
- 2009: Expanding horizons of science
- 2010: Gender equality for prosperity and peace