Vigyan Rail as peace train

Print edition : May 07, 2004


Interview with M.V. Kamath, president, Vigyan Prasar Society.

M.V. Kamath, president of the Vigyan Prasar Society and recipient of Padma Bhushan for 2004, has been the inspiration behind many of the society's successful projects. His aim is to take science and technology to the millions of people across the country. In this interview, he shared some of his innovative ideas with Anupama Katakam. Excerpts:

What is your vision for Vigyan Prasar?

We need to continue our work of inspiring and educating people throughout the country, particularly in areas that have little access to novel forms of learning. The Vigyan Rail - science exhibition on wheels - for instance, has been immensely successful. There has never been something as a science train. It is the first such and we hope to come up with many more such projects. When we started the train we knew it would be a good idea, but the public response to it has been overwhelming. In towns like Bareilly and Allahabad, over two lakh people visited the train. We need to build on the idea and promote science and technology in other interesting ways. My vision for Vigyan Prasar is for it to become a body that is responsible for spreading science as widely as possible and making it a popular subject among all categories of people. From school children to college students and from farmers to professionals, everyone must feel the need to know more.

What are your plans for the near future?

I would like India to send the Vigyan Rail to Pakistan and Bangladesh. In this climate of friendship, I think it would be a wonderful idea for the Vigyan Rail to play the role of a peace train to Pakistan. That is my big ambition right now. It will be a terrific idea for an Indian science train to go across to at least some SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] countries. Not only will it amount to a gesture of friendship but it will be educative for people of those countries as well. I will be speaking to the government about this idea soon. The train will complete its journey by August. After that there is every likelihood that the government may continue to run the train. The other plan I have in mind is to invite a group of 60 Nobel laureates to India in 2007 to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee of India's Independence and arrange for their lectures at colleges and other educational institutions all over India. It would be a wonderful opportunity for our students.

Do you think Vigyan Prasar is moving ahead with its objectives?

Vigyan Prasar's work is highly commendable. It has demonstrated that a staff of just 20 people can do a significant amount of work with limited resources. We have the ideas. We are not short of commitment, enthusiasm, skills or energy. Vigyan Prasar is already doing some first class work. We will grow and enhance our reach. Hopefully, we will be able to garner enough resources and support to carry out our objectives. My ambition for Vigyan Prasar is that it should expand to meet the various demands in science communication. Our aim should be: science should create wealth, create employment, and most of all happiness.

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