Jitendra Nath Goswami (left) delivers a speech in Guwahati. A file picture
Shillong, Jan. 5: Assam’s very own “rocketman,” who helped put India on the moon, has another dream now — to see the youngsters of the Northeast reach the skies.
No wonder, Jitendra Nath Goswami — the principal scientist of the Chandrayaan-I mission — is hopeful that the 96th National Science Congress here will trigger a renewed interest in science among the youngsters.
The prospect assumes importance as it comes from a man who had last attended a science congress way back in 1978 in Hyderabad.
“Though I am not a regular part of the science congress, it is a wonderful event. In fact, (it is) the best for networking among top scientists, research scholars and young students. With the science congress happening in Shillong, I hope, will inspire our youngsters to pursue a career in science,” he told The Telegraph before he returned last night.
Goswami is the director of the Physical Research Laboratory based at Ahmedabad and was a key man in the successful launch of the country’s first mission to the moon.
Goswami hails from Jorhat in Upper Assam and is an alumni of Cotton College in Guwahati.
The 58-year-old Goswami — the quintessential scientist with a mop of curly hair — said the Northeast “has not been able to fulfil its potential” in terms of churning out people from the science stream despite a good education system.
“The competition for seats in the science stream of colleges is still very intense, which means we have good students. But where are they after they graduate? Many go into professions not related to their field. Which means that they have lost the desire to go further,” he said.
Goswami added that events like the science congress could help the youngsters dream bigger when they come in contact with people like M.S. Swaminathan or K. Kasturirangan. While Swaminathan is the father of the green revolution in India, Kasturirangan is a former chairperson of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) and both are attending this edition of the National Science Congress.
“When youngsters, say school students, interact with a top scientist or professor, they are in awe of the man. It happens naturally. Sometimes, such meetings give the youngsters their ultimate goal. I am sure there will be many such youngsters who have found their calling in science, just because of this conclave. This is what such conferences do,” he added.
He could not have been more precise. Just a few hours before Goswami made the observation, a young student from Hyderabad posed a question to the panellists at a discussion on climate change.
Below her question on a chit of paper, she gave her identity as Cynthia, “young scientist”, Hyderabad.
Swaminathan, who moderated the discussion, was certainly impressed. Goswami was not at the venue where the “young scientist” was present. But his dream was already taking shape at the science congress.
“Who knows, 15 years from now, you will be talking to a reputed scientist who is a among the students here. I hope he or she is from the Northeast,” Goswami said.
Whoever said once a dreamer always the dreamer, must have had this man in mind.