The last few editions of the ISC attracted criticism for mixing science with mythology.

After two controversial editions Indian Science Congress heads to Tirupati
news Science Thursday, December 01, 2016 - 18:13

The Sri Venkateswara University (SVU) in Tirupati is gearing up to host the 104th Indian Science Congress (ISC), a five-day annual programme expected to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 3.

The varsity, which is getting a "full-scale" makeover, will be receiving over 13,000 delegates, including scientists from reputed institutes from the country and abroad and officials from public sector undertakings, The Hindu reported. 

Of the numerous measures that are being taken for the event, some include installing rain-proof pandals at the stadium for the main event and constructing two makeshift venues. Preparations are also being made for a mega science exhibition by ISRO, DRDO, BEL, etc. on a seven-acre land. 

Apart from these, 1,600 rooms in 23 hostel blocks are being revamped and a website is also being developed for crowd management during the national event, the report states. 

The last few editions of the ISC attracted criticism for mixing science with mythology.

The 102nd session held in Mumbai in January 2015 was marred by controversies as two scientists jointly presented a paper, claiming that the aircraft was invented in India during the Vedic age, dating back to 1500-500 BC.

The Indian Science Congress Association/Facebook

Referring to claims Indian-born Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan told The Times of India earlier this year, "The idea that Indians had airplanes 2,000 years ago sounds almost essentially impossible to me. I don't believe it. The point is that if that technology was produced in a method so described that anybody could replicate it, then it becomes science."

He also criticised the ISC saying, "I attended one day (of an earlier Congress) and very little science was discussed. It was a circus. I find that it's an organization where very little science is discussed. I will never attend a science congress again in my life."

At the same conference, Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, without backing his claim with evidence, had said that India had given the world algebra and the Pythagoras's Theorem.

Some of the other claims made were that cows carry a bacteria that can turn anything they consume into 24-karat gold and a helmet from the Mahabharata war can be found on Mars, according to this compiled report by India Today.

During the 103rd edition of the event held in Mysuru this year, (ISCA) general secretary Arun Kumar said that they would stick to the basic or applied science, keeping out mythology from their annual jamboree. 

"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," Kumar had told IANS. 

The 2016 conference was however not without its share of Hindu-culture based scientific discussion.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the 103rd ISC; Source: 104th ISC/Facebook

A senior IAS officer presented a paper on "Blowing of shankh (conch) - an indigenous tradition for fitness and wellness" at a plenary session. 

"Conch (shankh), if blown in a correct and proper manner, has positive effect on our physical and mental health," Rajeev Sharma, additional divisional commissioner of Uttar Pradesh's Kanpur, had told IANS.

"Modern medicines treat only body and not mind though root cause of all ailments is psycho or mental. Only an indigenous device like conch can treat both body and mind," Sharma added.

Another paper that was to be presented at the ISC this year, but could not be as the author failed to turn up following an injury, was "Lord Shiva: As the Greatest Environmentalist in the World".

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