[Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives at the inauguration ceremony of the 103rd Session of Indian Science Congress, in Mysuru on January 03, 2016.]
Mysuru (Karnataka): The once-bitten-twice-shy scientific community has decided to stick to the basic or applied science, keeping out mythology from their annual jamboree this time.
"Only pure science is our real business this time. Last year, we had certain issues when mythology overshadowed science. We are away from it and concentrating on only science," Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) general secretary Arun Kumar told IANS at the 103rd annual event here, about 140 km from state capital Bengaluru.
The 102nd session in Mumbai last year was marred by controversies as two scientists on January 4, 2015 jointly presented a paper, claiming that aircraft was invented in India during the Vedic age, dating back to 1500-500 BC.
"We are totally avoiding those (mythology) type of things though they were allowed last time, maybe, due to some pressure from ministers and maybe from our own fraternity who wanted a session in the plenary on mythology," Kumar recalled.
Two noted speakers -- Anand Bodas from Kerala and Ameya Jadhav from Mumbai -- demonstrated that aviation in the Vedic age was more advanced than in the modern versions through a paper on "Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit".
In the absence of records or archives and lack of supporting evidence, the duo asserted that the ancient aircraft were huge and could even fly to other planets.
Bodas, a principal at a pilot training school in Kerala, and Jadhav, a lecturer at the Swami Vivekananda International School and Junior College in Mumbai, lamented that owing to passage of time spanning hundreds of years, foreign rulers who looted the country and stole artefacts had denied benefit of doubt for its believers.
"As per the theme, chosen carefully this time with the consent of all stake-holders, including the science and technology ministry and the Prime Minister's Office, we are focusing primarily on Make in India, Clean India and Digital India campaigns..." Kumar said.
As last year's event took place seven months after the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government took office and amid concerns over attempts to revive mythology at a mega science meet, the Kolkata-based association had not given a chance to its members to present any paper that is objectionable and stirs up a controversy.
"It is not just a show, as right from Nobel laureates to a young scientist (they) have a certain tasks to share their achievements and experiences with everyone," said Kumar, who heads the Earth sciences department in the Manipur University.
He said the theme of the present session "on indigenous development" was selected keeping in view the government's priorities.
The association's various bodies comprising advisories, councils and executive committees have also resolved to stick to core issues pertaining to core sciences.
"Nothing controversial or objectionable will come out this time. Efforts are on to ensure the event is relevant and have solutions that will benefit all," Kumar added.
(Fakir Balaji can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)