National Science Day is observed every year in India on February 28 to honor the significance of science, scientists, and scientific progressions in the world. On this day, in 1928, Sir CV Raman discovered the Raman Effect; for this, he was acknowledged by the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930.
The Raman Effect resulted in the invention of a new discipline, Raman Spectroscopy, which has now urbanized into a powerful tool for a wide variety of thorough investigations and business applications. This significant contribution to the realm of science led to Sir Raman being the first recipient of India’s Nobel Prize.
Derived from the Latin word, ‘Science’ is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the social and natural world following a systematic methodology based on evidence. As Sir Raman once said, “The essence of science is independent thinking, hard work, and not equipment,” let’s take this moment to explore the importance of National Science Day and why one should celebrate it!
National Science Day revolves around a theme each year decided by the Department of Science and Technology. This year’s theme is “Future of STI: Impacts on Education, Skills, and Work.” This theme addresses the fact that by leveraging new technologies, different innovations can be carried out. That technology and innovation are essential for the growth and social development of the country.
What are the main objectives of National Science Day?
When it comes to National Science Day, many people attend the celebrations with great enthusiasm and participate in interactive activities such as quizzes, projects, debates, etc. Major scale celebrations are held at essential locations like The Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT), The Indian Department of Science and Technology, The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), The Council of Science and Development, The Jawaharlal Nehru Planetarium, and the CSIR-National Environment Engineering Research Institute (CSIR-NEERI).
Here are some of the main objectives why this day is celebrated with so much vigor:
- To Invent and implement new technologies for the development of science.
- To pass on the importance of science and its application in day-to-day life to fast-track development.
- To promote and popularize the use of Science and Technology.
- To offer an opportunity for people who want to start a career in the field of science.
- To understand and display efforts and achievements in the field of science.
- To encourage individual sections of societies that are still blinded by faith and beliefs, develop scientifically and technologically.
Growing Need for Bold Initiatives
While India commemorates Science Day and remembers the contribution of Sir Raman, it is also an opportunity to take a more in-depth look at the status of science in the country. Such introspection is necessary as science and technology have transformed into the most critical drivers of India’s economy or any other country.
However, few disturbing trends call for immediate attention –
1. Students, undergraduate, and graduate have started to wander away from Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics. This is due to the reason that jobs in these fileds are less and low paying.
2. With universities focusing on classroom teaching, ‘research’ has been moved to the backburner. Students of universities hardly have any exposure to frontline research work, therefore, lack the motivation to pursue a research career. Those who wish to stay in the sciences prefer to go to research institutes for Ph.D. Whereas, in all the advanced countries, the universities contribute to good quality of research. Most universities in India have shifted undergraduate teaching to affiliate colleges. Here, good teachers and renowned scientists can play a pivotal role in shaping the students’ vision.
3. Research institutes are in dire need of improvement. It is necessary to make them autonomous and professionally managed to ensure accountability. Additionally, an effective system of rewarding good researchers should be implemented. Some institutes should be converted into research universities with small undergraduate and graduate programs to contribute to workforce development.
4. It is imperative to look at universities’ structure as most of them suffer from the massive drag of affiliated colleges. The quality of education is being compromised, which opens up the much-needed conversation about whether India should move towards the system of unitary universities.
5. Lastly, it is no surprise that universities in India have become water-tight compartments within a department, and people do not interact amongst themselves. It is finally the time for inter-disciplinary research and education to transform the essence of higher education. Our country promotes very specialized institutions like medical colleges, agricultural universities, engineering colleges, etc. In contrast, the scholars of foremost institutions elsewhere are trying to join forces and promote all knowledge branches.
What Can Be Done?
The pressing need of today’s society is to bring about reforms in higher education. It is safe to say that the government should liberally fund research in basic sciences and technology. We should make way for private universities to generate competitions for government-backed universities and research institutes. Moreover, career scientists shouldn’t get the shorter end of the stick. They should be paid well, and their working conditions must be improved.
Ending on a positive note, let us list out some technologies that have transformed the lives of specially-abled individuals:
- Neil Harbisson, a man born with Achromatopsia, a condition that makes a person see the world only black and white, with the help of science, built a camera that curls over his head like an antenna converts color input into some specific sounds that help people hear colors.
- Pera Technology came up with a budget-priced Braille e-reader. The Leicestershire-based firm coordinated a consortium of European firms to build a working prototype dubbed Anagraphs. This prototype leverages software-controlled heat to expand paraffin waxes in its screen, turning the material from liquid to solid and, in turn, manipulating which of its 6,000 Braille dots are raised.
- A magic tool created by Liftware Company took the world by storm when it promised to help people who have Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder. The company’s said machine uses hundreds of algorithms, helps people with this disease, and supports their food consumption. The hand of the patient is monitored by the magic tool.
This article highlights the importance of celebrating National Science Day on February 28, every year, and jots down how ‘science’ provides a good career opportunity and proves to be very useful in our daily lives. Since Independence, India has traveled far in research and development activities. Four scientists of Indian Origin – Hargobind Khorana, S. Chandrasekhar, Venki Ramakrishnan, and Abhijit Banerjee, have won Nobel Prizes in Medicine, Physics, Chemistry, and Economics. The people of our country are brimming with possibilities, and science being the beacon of hope, keeps on providing a new direction to think and invent new technology. The real question lies ahead of us: Are we ready to test our capabilities?
As Sir Raman once said, “Success can come to you by courageous devotion to the task lying in front of you,” so on this National Science Day, let’s take a pledge to keep expanding the horizon of science!