The President, Ram Nath Kovind, has emphasised on enhancing quality and relevance of our scientific enterprise. He said that our science must work for our people by contributing to their development and well-being. The President announced three key initiatives for gender advancement and equality in academic and research institutions on the occasion of National Science Day in a function held at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi today. This year the theme for National Science Day is “Women in Science”.Vigyan Jyoti is an initiative that will create a level-playing field for the meritorious girls in high school to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in their higher education. The Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI) will develop a comprehensive Charter and a framework for assessing the Gender Equality in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). An online portal for science and technology resources for women will provide E-resources related to all women-specific government schemes, scholarships, fellowships, career counseling with details of subject area experts from various disciplines in science and technology, President Kovind highlighted.The President said that the basic purpose of the National Science Day is to spread the message of the importance of science. There are two aspects to it – science in itself, as quest for pure knowledge, and science in society, as a tool for enhancing the quality of life. Both are, of course, interlinked, as scientific attitude is common to them. It is through science and technology that we can effectively address challenges of the environment, healthcare, energy for equitable economic growth, food and water security, and communication; to name a few. Challenges before us today are multifold and complex. The increasing mismatch between demand and supply of various resources is likely to lead to conflicts in future. We all will have to rely on science and technology in our search for sustainable solutions to these challenges.Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Science & Technology, Health and Family Welfare and Earth Sciences applauded the theme ‘Women in Science’ and marked it as a conscious paradigm shift from earlier days. Innovation and gender parity underpin the entire development process. Dr. Harsh Vardhan said that we must move from tokenism to totalism, especially when it comes to creating a gender parity culture in Indian science. The recent special focus on women empowerment by the government has resulted into various special schemes to attract women in science and to provide employment opportunities as well, he added. He said that as per a recent National Science Foundation (USA) Report, India has already climbed to the third spot in the number of science and engineering publications. It is a matter of pride for all that one of our Institutes, JNCASR in Bangalore is judged 7th in the quality of research by Nature Index, he added.
Stating that the new India would bring newer challenges, Dr. Harsh Vardhan called upon scientists to join the national endeavor to find S&T led solutions to the problems to meet the challenges of 21st Century.President Shri Ram Nath Kovind also conferred national awards for science communication and popularization including women excellence awards for meritorious women scientists. The awards included National Science and Technology Communication Awards, Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research (AWSAR) Awards, SERB Women Excellence Awards, and National Award for Young Woman Showing Excellence through Application of Technology for Societal Benefits.Professor Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST) highlighted the necessity of embarking on disruptive and new technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum technology and also emphasized the need for scientific social responsibility in all endeavours. He also mentioned recent and upcoming science communication initiative like Wikipedia, DD Science and so on.Prof. Gagandeep Kang, Executive Director of the Translational Health Science and Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad delivered a Special Talk on the occasion; Prof. Kang is the first women FRS from India.National Science Day is celebrated every year on 28th February to commemorate the announcement of the discovery of the ‘Raman Effect’ by Sir C.V. Raman for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1930. Government of India designated 28 February as National Science Day (NSD) in 1986. Since then, theme-based science communication activities are carried out all over the country on this occasion.National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science and Technology (DST) acts as a nodal agency to support, catalyze and coordinate the celebration of the National Science Day throughout the country in scientific institutions, research laboratories and autonomous scientific institutions associated with the Ministry of Science and Technology.DST also instituted National Awards for Science Popularization in 1987 to stimulate, encourage and recognize outstanding efforts in the area of science and technology communication and popularization as well as inculcating scientific temper among masses. These awards are presented every year on National Science Day.Prof K.Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to Govt., Dr Renu Swarup, Secretary, DBT, Dr Shekhar Mande, DG, CSIR and award winners were among those present on the occasion.