EDUCATION
Indian Science Congress: Lovely now, but ‘Wouldn’t it be Loverly’ in the future?
- S Pal
Indian Science Congress: Lovely now, but ‘Wouldn’t it be Loverly’ in the future?



In January 2018, just days before the 105th Indian Science Congress was to take off at the Osmania University, it was postponed. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to inaugurate the ISC on January 3, 2018, at Osmania University. The university was celebrating its centenary. The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) suffered a major setback. It was an exceptionally rare instance of an Indian Science Congress being postponed.

I remember asking someone if the government realises what damage it will reek. My argument was that the Science Congress is invariably the first big event in the Prime Minister's calendar every year. The January 3-7 slot has come to have sanctity of its own. 
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This year, when the 106th Science Congress fell into the lap of the Lovely Professional University, one expected some education as to what made this particular campus the appropriate choice for such an event. Our media completely side-stepped such a debate.
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Now, every time there will be a Science Congress, journalists will mention what happened in 2018. I was shocked when a senior bureaucrat told me that no one will remember it by next year.

Journalists will, I said. They especially won't, he said. "You can't manage all of them," I insisted. He smiled enigmatically, and said there's no need to manage any of them. They are an increasingly innocent tribe with memory not too deep, concerns not too engaged.

Osmania University, one of India's oldest universities, had hosted the Congress on three earlier occasions. The circumstances in which the Indian Science Congress was postponed were dreary, and featured a suicide, protests over jobs, reservations and even the rights of adivasis and lambdas.

The theme of that year's Science Congress was 'Reaching the unreached through Science & Technology'. This year, when the 106th Science Congress fell into the lap of the Lovely Professional University, one expected some education as to what made this particular campus the appropriate choice for such an event. Our media completely side-stepped such a debate.

When journalists stop losing sleep, governments also do likewise. That explains why the peace of the graveyard can fall upon a subject as thrilling as a Science Congress.

The Lovely Professional University — its name owes its origins to a different line of business with which the people of Jalandhar were better acquainted through their tastebuds — made news at the time of its inception about how it managed to survive the day of reckoning in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha when a piece of legislation seemed to add to its birth pains. 

Since then, the university management is known for its management skills. Vernacular newspaper houses are certainly not unfriendly. The university also makes news for the number of acres it is spread on, and journalists have often failed to explain how many acres it takes to produce an MBA, but are nevertheless impressed by the numbers.

Even then, it was surprising that not a single newspaper or journalist thought it fit to pose a question about why an event like the Indian Science Congress gets postponed without much reason, or lands up in the lap of a private university.

They did not even ask why, just a few days before the Indian Science Congress in Phagwara, the 42nd Indian Social Science Congress (ISSC) which was to be organized at the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) from December 15-19, 2018, at Varanasi, was cancelled? 

It was an event planned with considerable advance spadework, but was cancelled just six weeks before the inauguration! 
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When journalists stop losing sleep, governments also do likewise. That explains why the peace of the graveyard can fall upon a subject as thrilling as a Science Congress.
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Rajesh Kochhar, the author of the much celebrated ‘The Vedic People: Their History and Geography’, has called the event "an expensive annual tamasha...in the name of science (that) escapes close scrutiny." He has claimed that "a strong case exists for abolishing the Science Congress altogether" and given many reasons for it. 

One reason that he could have added was that the Indian Science Congress should now be abandoned as a venture involving any intellectual exertion because it has been managed in a lovely fashion where it can land up at any university with deep coffers and where journalists will not ask questions even if you go the open auction route to garner goodwill or money via national events featuring prime ministers and Nobel laureates.

If I understand the sharp marketing sense of the good folks at the Lovely Professional University, then the surrealist cut-outs of the prime minister and the rather obnoxious looking caricature of a several feet tall robot, not a patch on HAL 9000, will continue to stay where they are so that hundreds of thousands of travellers along the National Highway get to know the precious campus where a 100 Kauravas jumped out of a test tube and dinosaurs from texts ancient prowled the kumbh mela of indigenous science.  

Wouldn't it be loverly 
 
Photographs from this event will make it to the prospectus of the university for the next academic session, thereby inspiring other similarly set up universities to lobby more strongly to host similar events.

As Eliza Doolittle would have said, Oh, wouldn't it be then such a loverly professional thing to do? You only have to pronounce it right, and then not only will you be a Hungarian, but a princess to boot. 
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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