Vijnana Bharati Secretary General Shri A Jayakumar has been associated with the organisation since its beginning in 1991. Organiser senior correspondent Pramod Kumar spoke to him in New Delhi to know how the science movement created the world record and what are its other activities. Excerpts:
- How do you feel on creating this world record?
We are naturally thrilled and delighted. This is for the first time that a Bharateeya scientific organisation has entered in the Guinness Book of World Records. It is an international recognition to our nation and scientific fraternity.
- Despite having rich scientific traditions, people in Bharat do not have glorious feeling towards it. Why?
This mindset has to be changed. We have never attempted in projecting our traditional scientific knowledge in international forums. Our method of propagating our traditional knowledge has been poor. Hence, our people do not know what Bharat’s contribution is in this field. No syllabus carries information about it, creating a vacuum in the mind of Bharateeya students. But gradually a curiosity and enthusiasm is generating among the students towards Bharateeya contributions to science. The prime objective behind this mega event was basically to motivate our students.
- What is Vijnana Bharati doing to popularise the science?
This is one of the unique organisations, which is bridging the gap between the masses and the science community. We conduct various programmes like Bharatiya Vijnana Sammelan, Vidyarthi Vijnana Manthan, World Congress on Vedic Sciences, etc. in which we involve thousands of scientists and connecting them with students, teachers and the common masses.
We along with the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, are conducting a nationwide contest to know Bharat’s contribution. We have prepared text for it. Nearly one lakh students are expected to become part of this contest. We conduct programmes and projects to enable the students to gain hands on experience in science and technology.
- What are the other activities?
Our initiative of creating a think tank about ‘waste management’ through the International Institute for Waste Management (IIWM) operating from Bengaluru, Bhopal and Delhi has proved to be a big hit. We also provide innovative solutions to major industries and organisations on this issue. We are also planning to conduct courses on waste management. The problem is that people including the government agencies do not know how to handle the waste.
Another initiative is ‘Igniting Minds’, which aims at apprising students of the cutting edge technologies and the most modern innovations taking place in the country. It connects the students to top scientists of the country and abroad through virtual media. We telecasted this programme from IIT Delhi for 15,000 students of Kendriya Vidyalayas who viewed it in their classrooms at 150 places. The students can see, hear and interact with the resource person in real time. We got nearly 400 questions from the students which shows students interest in science. It is basically to impart larger spectrum to the students.
Another programme, Shakti, aims at empowering women in science even at the grass roots level. In mushroom cultivation we have mobilised a large number of women by imparting them training. We are conducting workshops and training for 'women friendly technologies' to rural women.
The 'Tech for Seva' involves scientists and technocrats with the voluntary organisations so that they can work with the public. Another programme is ‘Learn in India’. We know that about 50 per cent seats in Engineering Colleges remain vacant. We are trying to bring students from other countries to learn engineering, management, pharmacy and allied areas of skill development. We also promote the vital areas like health and energy at national level. Under health component we are focusing on Ayurveda through World Ayurveda Foundation. Last year 33 countries represented in the 6th World Ayurveda Congress organised at Pragati Maidan in Delhi. Now with the help of the Ministry of AYUSH we are trying to reach out to European countries to popularise Aryurveda. This can create huge career opportunities for our people. There is also an ample market for Ayurveda products in Bharat also. The AYUSH Ministry is also trying to encourage MBBS qualified students to learn Ayurveda. Now we have 273 medical Ayurveda colleges, we want to increase this number to 1,000 colleges. The Allopathic Medical colleges should also have compulsory Ayurveda division.
National Environment and Energy Development Mission (NEED Mission) is an open platform created by VIBHA for energy and environment related organisations across the country. We have planned to develop one lakh energy managers through selected students from 1,000 schools in which we have planned to start Energy Clubs. These trained young energy managers can play a lead role in energy conservation and efficient use of energy in their surrounding communities. We normally use zero watt bulb at our home or at the office. But it too consumes huge energy. A massive awareness and capacity building programmes have been planned by VIBHA from 11 to 25 February 2016 through six Urja Yatras which will start from Jammu, Rameswaram, Trivand-rum, Kolkata, Rajkot and Patna. All the Yatras will culminate at Nagpur after addressing about 2 lakh people.
Another initiative is to reconnect the scientists and technocrats working abroad to their villages where they are born. Nearly two lakh Bharateeya scientists are working in different institutions and research organisations abroad. It is an endeavour to engage our scientific community to help solving the problems of their respective villages. To materialise it, we are going to have a Global Indian Scientists Meet (GIST Meet) along with the Pravasi Bharateeya Diwas next year.
We have also formed a Young Scientists Forum involving the scientists below 45 years. We conducted its first meeting during the Science Festival in Delhi recently. Nearly 2,400 young scientists participated in the meeting. The objective of the Forum is to sensitise the scientists about the present needs of the country.
- When was the Vijnana Bharati formed?
The concept of a swadeshi science movement was initiated at Indian Institute of Science, Bangaluru by some scientists who celebrated CV Raman’s birthday as Swadeshi Science Day on November 7, 1982. As an organisation VIBHA was launched at Nagpur on October 21, 1991. Officially, it was registered as a society in 2001. Now within the span of 14 years it has emerged as the largest science movement in the country. It is a movement for swadeshi sciences with swadeshi spirit and connecting the traditional wisdom with the modern knowledge. The ultimate motive is to develop a self reliant Bharat through scientific and technological interventions in all fields.
- In how many states do you have organisational presence?
We are working in 22 out of the total 29 states. About 10,000 scientists are working with us voluntarily. We got two national awards (one for outstanding contribution in science communication and second for outstanding contributions in science and technology) during the UPA regime. The latest is the Guinness Book of World Records for conducting the largest practical science lesson at IIT Delhi. In the recent past we have also received Popular Choice Award on Energy from MIT, United States.
- Since Waste Management is a major issue all over the country, why do you confine only to two states and why not at the national level?
This is not confined to two states, we are just operating from these two cities. It is a ‘Pan India’ organisation and drawing the experiences from developed countries and will adapt the solutions to suit our nation. We also plan to work in SAARC countries through exchange programmes. Hence, it is called as an International Institute. Major issue with the waste management is the lack of awareness among the people. Technology is available, but people are not aware. For capacity building we are planning to train municipality workers.
- There seems to be a huge gap between the scientists, scientific institutions and the general public. How can we reduce this gap?
This issue has effectively been addressed by Science and Technology Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan. You will see the results of his initiatives in the days to come.