From the 5th of November 2019 to the 8th, India saw one of its extravagant science events, the India International Science Festival, organised in Kolkata. The event was organised by the Ministry of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Government of India, in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) and hosted many conferences, conclaves and exhibitions aimed at anyone enthusiastic about science. Although this was the fifth edition of the science festival, it was the first time a dedicated Science and Technology Media Conclave was held as a part of IISF—a move that had many science communicators, writers and journalists enthused. It was spread over two days, the 6th and 7th of November, at the legendary Bose Institute.
Last month, doctoral student Mr. Dev Kumar Thapa and his advisor Prof. Anshu Pandey from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, claimed to have discovered evidence for superconductivity at a temperature much higher than ever before. The researchers have posted a preprint of their paper titled, “Evidence for Superconductivity at Ambient Temperature and Pressure in Nanostructures” to the arXiv, an online repository of pre-prints of journal papers. They have also submitted a paper outlining their findings to the journal Nature. In this particular instance, questions of various kinds have been raised about the research reported in the preprint in the public debate.
Science in India is in interesting times. We have some of the best scientists producing world-class research working in a host of institutions within India that are largely public funded. A large scientific workforce complimented by a promising younger generation – that is often dubbed to be our demographic dividend. A learned and competent scientific administration fighting tooth and nail for increased budgetary allocations to invest in science.
It was years ago that India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had said, “It is science alone that can solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and deadening custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, or a rich country inhabited by starving people... Who indeed could afford to ignore science?”
Nehru was one of the first people to use the term scientific temper and advocate the promotion of scientific temper: