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Science in India, made in Calcutta!

- Exhibition focus on scientific leaps

A science exhibition planned and built in Calcutta is set to return to the city after a three-month-long Caribbean outing.

The exhibition — on the culture of science in India — dwells on the scientific achievements and activities in the country since the Vedic age. The idea is to highlight the scientific temper of the country and promote science in the host countries.

A team of about 40 researchers and skilled hands crafted the exhibits at the Salt Lake headquarters of the National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), the apex body of science museums in India, between March and May. The planning and design for the exhibition was also undertaken at the council’s central research and training laboratory.

G.S. Rautela, the director-general of the council, said: “The exhibition was spread over an area of 12,000sq ft in Guyana. This is the first time since 1983 that a science exhibition on such a grand scale has gone outside the country.”

The exhibition includes a model of a ship built in India during Harappan times as well as Chandrayan, India’s first unmanned lunar mission launched in 2008. A model of a Harappan township was also exhibited to showcase India’s scientific advancement at such an early stage of civilisation.

“There are about 75 exhibits, all built in our workshop,” said Nataraj Dasgupta, NCSM’s senior curator.

The Union culture ministry had signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Trinidad and Tobago in January about holding a science exhibition there. “We started work from January 10. There was very little time in hand,” said Rautela.

Dasgupta said the team (apart from researchers, it comprised artists, electronic engineers, sculptors and computer software developers) had to work hard against a strict deadline. “We had to work for more than 10 hours each day. We knew the exhibition would represent India there,” said Dasgupta who, along with a team of five other curators from Calcutta, visited Trinidad and Tobago to set up the exhibition.

Recreating the Zawar mines in Rajasthan, where zinc smelting was done almost 200 years back, is also something that the team fondly remembers. “We recreated the mines and the instruments used for smelting,” Rautela said.

The exhibits sailed from Calcutta on May 5 and took 55 days to reach Trinidad and Tobago.

While the exhibition was on, between May 22 and July 20, the Indian team got a request from Guyana’s government to take the exhibition to their country. The exhibition at Guyana was held between August 20 and September 30.