Experts from the University of Birmingham are leading a series of events exploring how researchers can help in solving global challenges affecting the people of India alongside the Queen’s Baton Relay that kick-started in New Delhi on January 12.
The 16th Queen’s Baton Relay, of which the varsity is an official partner, is a 294-day long journey across the Commonwealth nations that began on October 7, 2021 with the purpose of connecting with different communities and unique cultures across the countries.
Speaking about the Baton’s arrival in India, Karan Bilimoria, chancellor of the University of Birmingham, said, “Our Commonwealth connections are deep and wide-ranging, particularly in India, with our extensive education and research partnerships in environmental science, global surgery, transport and sports science.”
Sport, he added, is a unifying force, and the varsity is marking the Queen's Baton Relay’s visit to India with events that address key issues affecting people in India and beyond.
The varsity’s environmental scientists have helped create a hi-tech ‘heart’ for the Queen’s Baton, which contains atmospheric sensors with laser technology that analyses the environmental conditions wherever it is in the world. Augmented Reality (AR) will be used to visualise data captured throughout the journey to invite conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth nations, including India.
Data collected during the Baton’s journey will contribute to ongoing research projects being conducted across the globe by a team led by atmospheric scientist Francis Pope.
“Atmospheric data captured during the Baton’s global journey will be highly valuable in starting important conversations around air quality across the Commonwealth. We have several air quality research programmes in India and look forward to receiving data from the Baton during its time in India,” Pope said.
In India, the Queen’s Baton Relay events will feature top British and Indian experts. These experts will cover areas such as the future of work, gender equality, women in STEM and sports science for performance among other topics.
Through its India institute, the University of Birmingham will work with partners across India to deliver impact in areas such as surgical hygiene, environmental pollution, sustainable cooling and applied sports science. It is also creating new education initiatives, including a partnership with the National Rail Training Institute (NRTI) to train India’s future railway experts.
The University has selected 14-year-old Vinisha Umashankar, a talented innovator and environmentalist, as the Baton bearer in India. Vinisha previously spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the COP26. She was shortlisted for the Earth shot prize for her solar ironing cart invention.
Talking about the honour, Vinisha, who has designed a mobile ironing cart which uses solar panels to eliminate the need for polluting coal for ironing, said, “I like using science and technology to look at things in a different way. I would love to become a scientist and invent useful products that improve people’s living standards. Being the University of Birmingham’s Baton bearer in India is fantastic and I would like to thank the university for this opportunity.”
British High Commissioner to India Alex Ellis said the Queen’s Baton Relay is a global journey from Birmingham to every nation in the Commonwealth and he was thrilled to see the baton reach several Indian cities during India’s 75th anniversary year.
“The UK and India have a unique living bridge of people, ideas and culture that bring our two countries together, often through our love for sport. We look forward to inspiring generations to come through the first ever carbon-neutral Commonwealth Games,” added Ellis.