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Mission Science for the masses

his passion is science and his mission is to take its message to the remotest corners of the country. Fascinated with the subject since childhood, Samaresh Goswamy decided to pursue research at the Indian Telecom Industries Ltd (ITI), Bangalore, in 1967, after a B.Tech (hons) in electrical engineering from IIT, Mumbai.

The self-professed ‘man of science’ made substantial contributions to the design and development of software in electronic communication at ITI. But academics was not his thing. “I wanted a challenge. Something new, where I could directly deal with people, create awareness of science and make learning fun,” recounts Goswamy.

In 1981, he spotted an advertisement for Birla Industrial and Technological Museum (BITM), Calcutta. “I didn’t know anything about museums or what exactly the job entailed, so, I decided to grab it with both hands.” Since then, his purpose has been “to take science to the people”. BITM brought him back home to Bengal, and it is here that the 58-year-old has pioneered several projects that have broken the barriers of traditional science.

He introduced computer as a tool for communication and learning in museums in 1982 and then set up a research and development wing at the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM) to help improve communication techniques and the maintenance of exhibits in museums. Goswamy has published over 200 papers on electrical engineering, electronics and popularisation of science.

As director of BITM for a decade, secretary of International Council of Museums, India, (1994-95) and an executive committee member of Audio Visual International Council of Museums (1994-97), he has organised many symposiums and workshops in India. “We are definitely not lagging behind,” he feels. “Although not very glamorous, Indian museums are technically, at par.”

It was under Goswamy’s guidance that branch’s of BITM have opened in Burdwan, Siliguri, Digha, Calicut and Guwahati. The man in charge of science museums in the eastern zone has a patent on his innovation of the “coding and decoding system”, which replaces the keyboard and makes the computer suitable for the lay user.

His role in the popularisation of science and technology in IT earned him the Gyan Chandra Ghosh Memorial Award from the Science Association of Bengal last year. “In 1987 when I held a computer mela in villages, people laughed at me,” he smiles. “But I’m glad I persisted.”

Goswamy is currently working on the concept of “virtual laboratories” in schools, to avoid the recurring costs. “Everyone deserves an equal opportunity in education. My aim is to make science more accessible,” he concludes.

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