The Indian Annual Symposium, saw an amalgamation of academicians, the Government, and industry leaders to illustrate the possibilities of scientific advancement.

On Thursday, 4th February 2019 at Vigyan Bhawan, the Indian Annual Symposium – ‘Science and Society’- was organised by the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute (LMSAI) Harvard University, in collaboration with NITI Aayog and Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. The opening ceremony was graced by Mr. Tarun Khanna, Director of LMSAI. Mr. Khanna talked about bridging the gap between scientists and the society.

Following the ceremony, the first session was titled ‘Setting the Context for Science and Society’ and it was moderated by Mr. Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog. The first speaker of this session, Dr. V.K. Saraswat, Member (S&T), NITI Aayog and Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University spoke of science as an important tool for the sustainable society. He further said that science, technology, and society are a three-way road which must go together as they have the power to transform civilisation. He ended his note by urging social scientists and society leaders to take lead for converting problem areas to workable strategies and decisions, especially in the fields of agriculture and healthcare.

The next speaker of the session was Ms. Kiran Mazumdar, Chairperson and Managing Director, Biocon, who talked about the areas and the ways in which India needs to improve in science and technology. She said that science should be celebrated and well-connected with the society.

Dr. K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, took the session forward by highlighting the biggest challenge faced the nation, which is the lack in inclusiveness of the three pillars of the country – government, industry, and civil society. He stated that science and technology, which is the fourth pillar of the nation, can help overcome this challenge. For that, he added, the country needs to embark upon large scale educational programmes so that the “language of science” is accessible to all. Countering Ms. Mazumdar’s example of Bangalore as a success model, Dr. Raghavan called the success essentially “an accident.” Thus, according to him, there’s a need to be little more active if we were to replicate the same success in multiple places.

Mr. Amitabh Kant ended the session by voicing the need of massive investments in science and technology for the development of India.

The second session of the Symposium was to highlight the ‘Technological Advancements in Agriculture,’ moderated by Mr. Manoj Kumar, Senior Advisor and Head – Innovation, Tata Trusts.

Dr. Shannon Olsson, Associate Professor, Naturalist-Inspired Chemical Ecology, National Centre for Biological Sciences, talked about the challenges faced by agriculture in India. She highlighted the need for India to have a better handle of its diversity and to focus on adapting sustainable technology. According to her, the ecological regions in the country need to be identified and awareness must be increased among the people.

Mr. Amitabh Mohanty then elaborated how we need to have “competency development” as well as “capacity development.” In his speech, he focused on the challenge# faced by the farmers – such as land, input quality, weather, nutrition security, and how it’s pertinent to have a look at farming needs and using technology to fulfill it.

Dr. Suresh Subramani, Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of California, San Diego said that extensive export of crude and food by India has precipitated a national crisis in food security. He introduced to the audience CRISPR-cas technology and explained how it can be beneficial for the farmers. According to him, India has immense potential to leverage this technology. He also made everyone of its challenges since it’s a new technology.

At the end of the session, Dr. Olsson strongly condemned the need for any more new policy. She added that the country already has a lot many of them and it’s time that people work on the existing policies.

Dr. Venkatesh Murthy, Professor and Chair of Molecular and Cellualar Biology, Harvard University, moderated the third session of the event titled ‘Why study Life Sciences?’ He initiated the discussion by highlighting how Life Sciences is intrinsic to the daily life of the people.

The first speaker of this session, Mr. Sanjeev Galande, Professor and Chair of Biology, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research said that Life Sciences provides us with a platform to find the common thread of life. In his well elaborated presentation, he explained various technologies like single cell biology, and next generation sequencer, among others.  

Dr. Yamuna Krishnan, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Chicago, began her address with a powerful statement – “We are all born basic scientists.” She demanded innovations in labs and universities to have supportive mechanisms to bring them out and make them reach people.  

The session continued with Mr. J. Satyanarayana, Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India, addressing important concerns regarding designing a system for health care which utilises data securely and creates a system that is “secure by design, private by design” in his National Digital Health Mission report.

Mr. Rahul Matthan, Lawyer, Head of Technical Division, raised ethical and legal questions regarding privacy and security. This was followed by a panel discussion and a short Q/A session.

The next session was led by Mr. Tarun Khanna, and focused on ‘Method and Tools to Enhance STEM Education in India.’ Mr. Dmitry Popov, Technology Development fellow in the Wyss Institute at Harvard, gave a detailed account of Soft Robotic Toolkit which can be used by high school and university students alike to explore the world of robotics.

The concluding session included Dr. Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog, talking about an effective system of government and industry working together to achieve development in the society with the help  of science and technology.

Image Credits: Surbhit Rastogi for DU Beat

Maumil Mehraj

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Shreya Agrawal

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Antriksha Pathania

a[email protected]


Summer breaks for most of us revolve around the numerous ways in which we can upgrade our portfolios and résumés; doing an internship, taking extra classes, doing some form of community service or preparing for competitive exams, are some such examples. As a result, many of us lose out on the opportunity to travel more and see the world around us.

Recognising this, many educational institutions and organizations now offer summer school programs and internships to students where they have something to show on their portfolio thus ensuring holistic development in the truest sense of the term. Many prestigious universities across the world offer summer school programs where, across a period of three to four weeks (sometimes even more) students from different parts of the world are given the opportunity to study and also explore a city or a country on their own. Columbia, Harvard, Cambridge and The London School Of Economics currently attract the largest numbers every year including a massive share of students from India.

Whereas, the popular opinion here is that, these programs are nothing more than a money-making racket and that kids just go to have a good time, not do anything constructive and blow up a large amount of money in the process, this is not entirely true. While there are many cultural events, parties, guided tours of the city, its museums, day trips in and around the city, there is also a very hectic and concise study routine with four to five hour lectures per day (depending on what course you’re doing and where you’re doing it), tutorials and examinations as well. So if you’ve always wondered what exactly is so great about foreign education, this is a great way to find out just how different the structure and pattern of education abroad really is.

With each program ranging between a couple of months or three, one tends to get a taste of exactly how life works in the West which a tourist never really can. The Columbia and LSE summer schools give you a chance to take in, explore and be a part of two of the grandest cities in the world whereas Cambridge ensures you get a complete experience of University life in the UK studying and staying on one of the most beautiful campuses on the globe. Lastly, being independent in a new place for a period of time really helps one acquire some perspective and give them more clarity about who they are and what they wish to do once college ends.

Image Courtesy: www.summer.harvard.edu

Shraman Ghosh
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Sounds of Silence (SOS), is a non-governmental organization (NGO), registered in 2013, working for the betterment of the hearing impaired children by providing them with a platform to interact with the outer world. SOS wants to make a difference in the lives of these special kids by providing them with mobile phones so that they can text one another.

SOS Project focuses on both interaction and enabling children with hearing disability. The basic aim being: to place the children in the same footing as children from regular homes with regards to experiences and interaction in various walks of life. Their mission is to achieve equal access for deaf people in every area of their lives. They are dedicated towards working for the development of the deaf community, enhancing their quality of life, empowering them with the power of expression, promoting social and cultural awareness while working towards independent and barrier free communication for the Deaf. They believe in the motto of, ‘deafness with dignity and equality’ and a society where deaf people have equal opportunities to participate in all walks of life. They envision the future where deafness is no more a ‘disability’ and a world where they are on the same footing as the regular children. They are currently established in New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, and even Pakistan.

Special kids are provided mobile phones so that they can text one another to communicate easily.

They’ve recently come up with a cause called the ‘BitGiving’ where you can donate your cell-phones and money which will further help in the education of deaf students.

SOS has received various accolades for its noble cause like; special Felicitation by the President of India for non-profit Excellence and Social Impact, World Education Summit Award for Innovation in Hearing Impaired Education, South Asia: Vodafone Mbillionth Award for Digital Empowerment, received recognition from Harvard Business School in “The 20 Years of Impact”, Social Entrepreneur Award 2015, 5th India Digital Awards for social and economic development using mobiles,  TEDx speaker @IIM Calcutta inspiring young minds with innovative ideas.

SOS also has volunteer and internship programmes which involve teaching and engaging with the students or sub-set of students with the instructional hours.

For more details, please visit: http://soundsofsilence.in/index.html


Ishita Sharma

[email protected]

Image Credits: http://soundsofsilence.in/gallery.html

Tom Hanks portrayed the role of Robert Langdon first in The Da Vinci Code.
Tom Hanks portrayed the role of Robert Langdon first in The Da Vinci Code.

Dan Brown, one of the most widely read authors across the globe, is back with yet another spine chilling novel. And not just any power packed thriller but another book featuring ‘Robert Langdon’, the insightful professor from Harvard who cracked the secret of the Holy Grail in the Da Vinci Code. His latest offering, Inferno, takes Langdon to Florence, Italy where Langdon finds himself not only suffering from retrograde amnesia but also trapped in a cat and mouse chase with WHO. In this roller coaster ride spanning over a day and a half, Brown once again shows his prowess in keeping his readers hooked to the pages without food or water, powerless in the face of an imaginary apocalypse and an imaginary Professor playing Superman.

Not to reveal too much and not to make this piece of writing yet another review of perhaps this year’s most reviewed book, lets focus our attention on Robert Langdon, the Harvard Symbolist who shot to fame after his escapades at the Vatican and whose popularity soared the charts with The Da Vinci Code. What makes him the awe-inspiring personality that everyone thinks he is?

Being an ardent Robert Langdon follower, I have compiled a list of credentials that make every student want Robert Langdon as his professor, even if it means studying iconology and symbology :

  • He knows everything there is to know about every relevant person in history: As each of his adventures gets more perplexing Mr.Langdon has no qualms about solving archaic riddles and messages which stem from the famous works of prominent shapers of history and which also take the story forward.
  • Displays of superhuman Dexterity : Remember the time Langdon was trapped in the Vatican Library in Angels and Demons or the time he excuses himself to the washroom in the Louvre in The Da Vinci Code. A normal person would be completely bogged down and clueless about which way to run, but not Monsieur Langdon. Also running away from the police or International Organizations is his area of expertise.
  • His enviable ‘personal connections’: Langdon always seems to know whom to contact and which strings to pull. Right from caretakers of museums to owners of private chateaus, Langdon not only knows everyone but can just as easily call upon them in the hour of need.  Private jets and possession of priceless artifacts often comes with the package.
  • A beacon of bravery: Langdon is nothing if not courageous. Right from saving an entire country while walking on egg shells in Angels and Demons to saving his dear friend from a psychotic killer(who turns out to be his friend’s son) in The Lost Symbol to the more recent, trying to save the entire world from a pandemic, Langdon has displayed the virtue of bravery like no other.

Leaving all his abilities and shortcomings apart, Robert Langdon has captured human imagination like no other and has carved a niche for himself in the minds of is readers. For me, he is the hybrid of Harry Potter and Einstein.

They came. They saw. They conquered. And they’re at it again.

Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology or NSIT, one of India’s finest technical institutions and the only engineering college under the DU purview is once again sending a group of proud, talented and thrilled young debaters to the prestigious Harvard National Model United Nations this year. This is the third year in a row that NSIT is sending an entire delegation of budding diplomats to this esteemed platform of world debating.

Model United Nations or MUNs are a simulation of the actual working of the United Nations Organization- students get together in the form of various committees such as the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council, represent a particular member nation of the UN, and work towards finding diplomatic solutions to some of the critical issues that the world faces today.

After solidifying their place in the MUNing sphere, whether it be by hosting the widely acclaimed and hugely successful first edition of their very own MUN last year or by taking Indian MUNing to new heights by performing spectacularly at a platform as prestigious as Harvard- the ‘techies’ from NSIT have truly done it all. The previous two delegations impressed immeasurably: NSIT was accorded the status of being among the top 20 teams visiting Harvard for the 2011 version of their mammoth event. Stellar performances in the past with students getting recognized for clarity of thought, knowledge of the diplomatic craft and solid preparation have laid the foundation for this team turning from then being India’s only representatives at that platform to now being underdogs no more- they don’t just want to go- they want to win.

“HNMUN is the zenith of competition in this particular form of debating. The opportunity is priceless. The fact that we have a group of people who have been active debaters throughout school as well as college, and having the invaluable guidance from seniors who’ve already been there gives us great confidence for the event”, says Daksh Sharma, a first- year B.E. student who has been chosen to be part of the delegation.

The experience that the previous delegation amassed is being put to definitive, ambitious use: preparations are on at a feverish pace, may it be intensive training sessions, team simulations of how the actual conference will be or the collective hours upon hours of research being carried out, the NSITians are leaving no stones unturned.

The students will be representing Afghanistan at the forum, something that they believe will be of great advantage. ”It’s a nation that has great relevance with respect to a vast range of social issues, whether economic or even military, implying that the delegation will be under great scrutiny throughout the event. This gives us an added advantage as far as the competitive aspect of things is concerned”, says Shifali Gupta, a fourth-year B.E. student also, head delegate for this year.

With an already established MUNing culture in DU which is clearly growing by leaps and bounds, great things are expected from this group of young enthusiasts from NSIT. The experience of two years, the effort of countless hours, the pride of competing at the highest platform- one can almost hear the resounding clarion call-Harvard Ho!