Why National Science Day is celebrated?


It is our fundamental duty to develop a scientific spirit, says our Constitution. It’s, perhaps, the only Constitution in the world to say that. No wonder then that India has a dedicated day to celebrate science – the National Science Day. It is celebrated on February 28, to mark the discovery of light scattering – or the Raman Effect – by Nobel laureate Indian physicist, Sir CV Raman.

Nearly a century has passed by since the Raman Effect was discovered, revolutionizing the study of Physics and our understanding of the world. During this period, despite all the challenges and intermittent derailment of efforts, India has upheld its commitment to science, thanks to the efforts of successive generations of policymakers.

We have overcome a multitude of challenges, since our Independence, through the deployment of scientific solutions. India’s scientific community saved the country from the brink of starvation and famines through the Green Revolution. Today, India is a leading exporter of several agricultural commodities.

It also saved India from multiple health disasters. Polio and smallpox were effectively eradicated. An AIDS epidemic was brought under control. Maternal and Infant Mortality Rates were brought down by our health experts who worked with rural and urban poor communities to raise awareness and adopt medical procedures. Even during Covid-19, India was among the first few countries to indigenously produce a vaccine to control the pandemic

From a time when Western media and leaders mocked our space-tech ambitions, India has risen to challenge the Western hegemony over the skies and beyond. From being a defence equipment importer, we are now looking to export our products to other countries.

All of this was made possible through the advancement of science. India and Indians have been at the forefront of the IT and digital revolution. Engineers and technocrats from India lead several global technology corporations today. This has been possible because of the large-scale adoption of STEM education by Indians across the country.

According to the World Economic Forum, amid a global short supply, it’s India that is producing the highest number of STEM graduates in the world, year after year. Nearly 35% of all our graduates passing out of colleges have specialized in STEM subjects. They are major contributors to the global economy.

Yet, not all is hunky-dory. The changing socio-political climate has watered down the scientific temperament of the collective society. India ranks at 40th place in the global innovation index, while countries much smaller than us rank higher. Singapore, for instance, is ranked fifth.

While the deep science ecosystem has witnessed significant growth in the country, the scientific tools for sustainable development are yet to reach the hands of frontline communities. Scientific approach to problem-solving in other fields, such as public administration, city planning, and urban development is also lacking.

In this National Science Day special issue, we look at some of these pertinent topics. How students can inculcate scientific temper. What major deep-tech innovations are disrupting the Indian startup market. How space junk is a growing menace. Is India spending enough on Research and Development… We will be discussing these points in this Issue.

This Issue also has a curated set of articles written by scientists, educators, and research scholars. On the fun side, we look at the real-life experiment that inspired Mary Shelly to write the incredibly popular Frankenstein, and the common tropes on robots in books and movies. We hope this Issue inspires and entertains you in equal measure.

Picture Credit: Google

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