IISF 2019: 5th edition to kickstart on Nov 5 in Kolkata

Representative image. (Photo: IISF website)

From a timid affair held at a corner of IIT Delhi, a saffron-hued science festival has grown enormously in its scope and size in the last five years turning into a mega show to be held in the eastern metropolis from Tuesday in which attempts would be made to create at least three Guinness records involving hundreds of school children.

“The budget for the 2019 edition of the India International Science Festival is Rs 25 crore,” Ashutosh Sharma, Department of Science and Technology Secretary told DH. For comparison, the 2015 show had a budget of only Rs seven cores.

Asked to comment on the need to have such a show two months before the Indian Science Congress, Sharma said, “Science Congress is more traditional where scientists have seminars on their own disciplines while IISF emphasizes on science and society focusing on children. It is participatory science.”

The Union Science Ministry, however, felt the need to organize such an event only in 2015, a year after Narendra Modi-led BJP government came to power at the centre. 

Besides the government scientific departments, the principal organiser of the IISF is Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) - earlier known as Swadeshi Science movement - that promotes implementation of modern technology and ancient sciences. Every organising committee has several VIBHA members while the steering committee has five of them. The budget, however, is shared by the scientific departments of the government.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday would inaugurate the show through video conferencing. Over the next four days, 28 different events are to be carried out with the participation of nearly 12,000 delegates including scientists, students, academicians, policy planners and diplomats.

Every Parliamentarian  - nearly 400 of them are from the BJP - will nominate students and teachers from their adopted villages to participate in some of the IISF events.

Attempts would be made to create at least three Guiness records with active participation of high school students who in the process would also learn a thing or two about the experiments conducted by J C Bose and fundamentals of human chromosomes.

Around 360 students on November 7 will simultaneously assemble radio kits setting a world record whereas on the final day an equal number of students will create the largest human image of a chromosome.

On November 6, the largest assembly of optical media communication unit at a single location with 950 students will be attempted.

However, there are some uncertainties on the first Guinness record to be attempted on the opening day of the show in which 1,750 students will assemble a basic spectroscope at a single location with cardboard boxes and CDs. During the process they would be taught about C V Rahman's experiments.

"Since it involves a large number of students, we aren't sure about its success. The other three will definitely happen," said Arvind Ranade, a DST official associated with organisation of the IISF, 2019.

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