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Nobel winners in science meet

Three Nobel laureates will participate in the centenary session of the Indian Science Congress, to be held in Calcutta from January 3 to 7 next year.

“The three Nobel laureates who have confirmed their participation are Taiwanese chemist Yuan Tseh Lee from the University of California, Scottish economist James A. Mirrlees from Trinity College, Cambridge, and Japanese chemist Ei-ichi Negishi from Purdue University,” said Sibaji Raha, the secretary of the Indian Science Congress Association.

S.R. Srinivasa Varadhan, the winner of Abel prize (the Nobel equivalent in mathematics), will also take part in the centenary session, to be held at various academic institutions in Salt Lake with Calcutta University as the nodal host.

“We are waiting to hear from three or four other Nobel laureates whether they will be able to attend the session,” said Raha.

The general president for the centenary year of the India Science Congress Association is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He had attended the inception ceremony of the centenary session held at Calcutta University on June 1.

The theme for the centenary session is “Science for Shaping the Future of India”. There will be 40-50 sessions, named after illustrious Indian scientists such as Meghnad Saha, J.C. Bose, S.N. Bose, Homi J. Bhaba and P.C. Mahalanobis.

“The Nobel laureates will address the plenary session and some other special sessions, talking about their areas of work. The lectures will be for general audience and devoid of jargons,” said Raha.

India is poised to take a leading role in international collaborations in mega science projects. “CERN director-general Rolf Heuer and the chief of the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Horst Stocker, will be talking on India’s participation in these mega science projects,” said Raha.

Among Indian speakers are the head of the scientific advisory council to the Prime Minister, C.N.R. Rao, Cambridge scientist N. Swaminathan and Sam Pitroda.

The India Science Congress Association owes its origin to the initiative of two British chemists — J.L. Simonsen and P.S. MacMahon — who believed that scientific research in India might be stimulated if an annual meeting of researchers could be arranged on the lines of the British Association for the Advancement of Science sessions.

The first session of the association was held from January 15-17, 1914, at Asiatic Society under the presidentship of Sir Asutosh Mookerjee, then vice-chancellor of Calcutta University.

A total of 105 scientists from India and abroad had attended the session. From the modest beginning, the association has grown into a strong fraternity of more than 10,000 members.