Fragrance of Samanway 2012……
SAMANWAY 2012, first of its kind National Students Conference on ‘Connecting Science and Society’was inaugurated on 3rd March 2012, which coincided with the InstituteFounder’s day. The Students’ Council, an elected body of dynamic youth, withpassion for science and societal responsibility, was the organizer ofthis novel and noble initiative, while the monumental ‘Faculty Hall Building’,selected as the venue , was witness to this historic occasion. The differenttechnical sessions, panel discussions and poster presentations, amid around 200odd participants from the length and breadth of country, eminent thinkers andspeakers enhanced the tone of the two day long conference held on 3rd and 4th March 2012 .
The driving spirit for SAMANWAY was the realization of a need to bring research students, working in areas that have a direct bearing on the betterment of society, together; creation of a conducive atmosphereto present and exchange ideas, to bring a coherent synergy towards the commongreater goal of creating scientific value that benefits the society at large .The objective of the conference wasto provide a unique platform in India, for the exchange of ideas among researchers/students from research institutes all over the country, with theintention of covering various research areas that have impact on society.
The five focal areas set for the conferencewere very relevant to address the need of the present day society of our country viz.
1. Farming for transforming
2. Good health, better society
3. Save environment, save future
4. Structuring the infrastructure
5.Interdisciplinary theme ‘Technology and Society’.
The inaugural session of the national conference SAMANWAY-2012 started with introductory remarks by the Students’ Council Chairman Sreevalsa Kolathayar. He suggested that there is a need for research students and scientists to leave competition and do collaborations, which wouldbe able to solve social challenges in India.
Prof. Mohankumar delivered the welcome address and expressed pleasure over the presence of Honourable
Director of Indian Institute of Science Prof. P. Balaram, Associate director Prof. N Balakrishnan and the chief guest Dr. R S Deshpande, Director of theInstitute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC).
In the inaugural address Dr. Deshpande pointed out that the compartmentalization of knowledge and creation hierarchy among various disciplines of knowledge has been counterproductive in connecting science with society. He made an appeal to the participants by saying “As youngscientists we all should focus towards society while working towards the extremes of the science in our labs.”.
Prof. N. Balakrishnan, Associate director, Indian Institute of Science emphasized the scientific values one scholar should cultivate. He recalled that in the early decades of the twentieth century the best technological institutes were developing the best radars, best guns, etc. Technology was at its best, but for a brutal aim to serve. The best supercomputer was used to design the atom bomb and the fastest aircraft to kill but not for solving intricate problems pertaining to climatic change. After World War II, technology has slowly shifted towards betterment of the society. Now science and technology is not invested for microwaves to kill, but for development of microwave ovens at homes.
In his address he made a point on the evolution of technological innovation in various phases of human civilization starting from the agrarian era to our very own Information era.
He explained the concept of the ‘Revenge of the Silicon’, wherein the Silicon used in all computing devices is taking a lead over carbon, which is a fundamental element of the human species. He said that biologists are carbon centric and computer scientists are siliconcentric and both the elements belong to the same group in the periodic table. He pointed some of the upcoming research in the area of vision system using silicon to replicate the vision system made by God using carbon. He said, “By 2040, there will be a chip which would have the capabilities same as that of the human brain. Humans are getting fossilized faster. Silicon chips are taking the place of human body parts and soon every child will have so manysilicon transplants that the whole body will be a bunch of sensors and this is the ‘Revenge of the Silicon’. He concluded by saying that, now there is a real need to understand science, and its pace and direction has to be monitored and controlled for the betterment of society. There is an inevitable need for a platform where young researchers, technologists and social scientists should sit together to discuss how to connect science and society.
The inaugural session came to an end with the presentation of a SAMANWAY memento to the chief guest by Prof Balkrishnanand vote of thanks by Digvijay Patankar on behalf of Students’ Council.
Technical session 1: Farming for transforming
The first technical session was chaired by Prof H N Chanakya of IISc, while Prof G.P. Brahmaprakash of GKVK was the key note speaker.
Prof Brahmaprakash linked increased use of chemicals, herbicides and pesticides to the success of various agricultural revolutions in independent India. Poor soil health, reduced fertility, increased level of pesticide in breast milk and antibiotic resistance in humans are the result of excess use of fertilizers, pesticides in crops and use of antibiotics in animal husbandry. He pointed out the need of a judicious combination of organic farming with chemical use, evaluation of genetically modified crops with an open mind. He mentioned that food grain loss due to post-harvest mismanagement is 20% in India, and attempts to minimize these losses hold a major key to solve the food problem issue.
Of the presentations made by the students ‘Bamboo shoots- a potential bio-resource for meeting food security needs’, ‘Solar tunnel bagasse dryer’, ‘Effect of surface sterilization treatments on in vitro rice culture’ , ‘Contract farming in India: A feasible farm-firm linkage’, ‘Differential gene expression in plants’; ‘Genetically Modified Crops – Food for all’, were well appreciated by the audience.
Technical session 2: Good health and better society
This session entitled was chaired by Prof Anjali Karande of IISc .The keynote address was delivered by Prof G.Padmanabhan, former Director IISc.
Prof Padmanabhan expressed concern over the fact that 30 % of the Indian population is below poverty line and so for them health facilities are not easily available. About 43 % of children below the age of 5 years are malnourished. Health services needs to reach the door steps of the underprivileged and this is where modern medicine has failed as it is becoming too costly to be afforded by the poor. So appropriate technology and cheaper interventions like ORS, immunization, yoga and alternate schools of medicine like Ayurveda are the need of the day. But at the same time standardization and scientific evaluation of Ayurveda and other alternate systems of medicine needs to be done. Remote monitoring and diagnosis using cell phone platforms and telemedicine are very promising in providing easy and cheap health facilities to rural areas.
Students made presentations on various topics like ‘Nano Doctors in Science and Technology’, ‘ADM – Automatic Diagnosis Machine’.
Technical session 3: Save Environment, Save Future
The Session was chaired by Prof. Sudhakar Rao, IISc Bangalore and Dr. S H Wate, Director NEERI delivered the key note speech.
Dr. Wate mentioned that environmental issues and sustainable development is important in all branches of science including social sciences because we have only one earth to preserve for the future generations. He emphasized on the need for innovations in science and technology for environmental preservation.
The presentations by the students captured various issues like soil stabilization by fly ash, supplemental greenfuel for automobiles, waste water treatment, study of reasons for forest cover change in Bangalore etc.
Technical Session 4: Structuring the Infrastructure
This Session was chaired by Prof T G Sitharam, IISc Bangalore and Dr. Sumitra Iyengar, Member Bangalore Chamber of Commerce; Industries addressed as Keynote Speaker.
Dr. Sumitra Iyengar discussed the following important factors concerning government infrastructure projects like :-
1. Concept and design
3. Financial modelling
4. Procurement processing
In procurement processing, she spoke about public private partnership (PPP) in detail. There were oral presentations in the session on ‘Sophisticated approach to rural development’,
‘Geographical indicators of sustainable management of urban sprawl’, ‘Performance of concrete waste as column material in problematic clays’ etc.
Technical Session 5: Technology and Society
The Session was chaired by Prof. Parameshwar Iyer, IISc.
The presenters came up with innovative and cost-effective technological solutions to fundamental and highly relevant problems faced by society. The topics covered were ‘Domestic fuel: Exploiting the microcosm within’, ‘Digital fuel level indicator’, ‘Gift of newer abilities: Automatic book reader for the visually challenged’.
The poster presentation session was the sixth session of ‘Samanway 2012’. Prof. K. Kesava Rao, Dept. of Chemical Engineering evaluated the posters based on originality, relevance to the theme and clarity of presentation.
A vibrant panel discussion was held in the concluding session of ‘Samanway 2012’ on the central theme of the conference ‘Connecting Science and Society’. The panel members were Prof. Chanakya H N, Prof. Mohankumar M S, Prof. Raghunandan B N, Prof.Sitharam T G and Prof. Sudhakar Rao M.
The summary of technical sessions was presented in the concluding session. Best presentation awards and best poster awards were presented to respective students and participation certificates were handed over to all the delegates. The session concluded by expressing thanks and appreciation to the IISc administration, advisory board members, key note speakers, session chairs, judges, sponsors and the delegates.
The conference was dedicated in memory of great visionaries Swami Vivekananda, Sir M Vishweshwaraiah, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray and Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya on the occasion of their 150th birth anniversaries .
For us SAMANWAY is a seasonal flower which blooms in the garden of our institute and attracts students and researchers with societal concern from different parts of the country.With all humility we believe it’s a great step towards steering scientific innovation and implementation towards the need of the underprivileged and ordinary people of our country. Let this flower bloom every year and let its fragrance be immortal …….
For Team Samanway