by Kamal Pratap Singh
About Dr Arvind Ranade
Dr Arvind C. Ranade is the Director of National Innovation Foundation-India, at Gandhinagar since April 2023. Before joining NIF-India, he was an Executive Director of Indian National Science Academy(INSA) New Delhi. He started his career as a Scientist for Astronomy and Space Science Communication in VigyanPrasar, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India in 2004.
He did his PhD in Astronomical Spectroscopy at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune. He has contributed through research papers and research reports. He is actively involved in writing popular science articles and scientific columns in print media and contributes as a subject expert in various electronic media. He was involved in the publications and production of audio and video programmes in Vigyan Prasar. He has been honoured with the Lilabai Pitkar Award at the Department of Space Sciences, the University of Pune, for the first rank in MSc in the year 2000. He was awarded ‘Aacharya Shree’ by the Vipin Joshi Foundation of Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh, in year 2013 and “ERADA VigyanPuraskar” by the Educational Research and Development Academy of Latur, Maharashtra in year 2017. He represented India at various International Conferences abroad. He was the founder and national coordinator of the National Science Film Festival and Competition conducted by Vigyan Prasar. He coordinated and conducted the Largest Practical Science Lesson Event of breaking the Guinness Book of World Record by conducting Chemistry Practical by 2,000 students during the India International Science Festival in 2015. He was the national coordinator of the Vigyan Prasar Network of Science Club (VIPNET), which is a network of about 4000 clubs. He was the editor of the monthly magazine ‘VIPNET Curiosity’. He is serving in various capacities of advisory boards of NCERT, NIScPR, JNU, Planetariums etc. He is a life member of the Astronomical Society of India, Meteorological Society of India and South Asian Metrological Association.
Sir, can you please tell us about the theme of IISF 2023?
The Theme of IISF 2023 is “Science, technology and Public Outreach in Amritkaal”.
How do you feel becoming Chief Coordinator of IISF 2023?
Generally, the organizing department designates one of its institutions with the responsibility of coordination and execution of the IISF. In 2023, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) under the Ministry of Science and Technology is the organizing department. So, DST has selected the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India, an autonomous institute of DST, to handle the coordination, planning, and execution of IISF 2023. This is how being the director of NIF, I came to assume the role of chief coordinator of IISF 2023 and I am pleased to have been entrusted with this prestigious task.
How can you describe IISF briefly and how it is different from other science gatherings?
Well, if you look at various scientific events that are organized at national and international level, you will observe that they predominantly focus on academia and R&D, often catering to individuals with deep scientific backgrounds. These events such as conferences, symposiums, seminars, workshops, and similar activities are primarily meant for specific audiences.
IISF is entirely unique. When IISF was conceptualized in 2015, the aim was to ensure public engagement with science, with or without a scientific background, and provide an opportunity for people to interact with diverse scientific community. The goal is to enable the public to understand the practical applications of science and technology in their everyday lives and to appreciate how science is easing and making their lives better. Today, the IISF has evolved as the country’s largest platform where scientific creativity is celebrated by all.
Secondly, the majority of S&T institutions that are working for the cause of science participate in Mega S&T Expo. In this, they showcase technological achievements drawn from their research work and describe how the efforts of these laboratories and institutions will positively impact common man.
Third point, events of IISF cater to diverse segments of society, promoting social inclusiveness. For instance, there is Student Science Village for school students, National Science Teachers Workshop is for current and future educators, Student Innovation Festival space hackathon is designed for engineering students and many more. Events like the Startup, Technology, and Innovation B2B Meet, National Social Organisation and Institutions Meet, Women Scientists and Entrepreneurs conclave are dedicated to innovators and startups.
This festival also involves active participation from science communicators and media personnel, a feature not commonly seen in other S&T events. This diverse involvement creates numerous opportunities for participation, even for the common man, contributing to the festival making a special place in the hearts of general public.
Last but not least, IISF ensures active participation of all major government science organizations. When the journey of IISF began, it was organized by two ministries i.e. Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences. In 2021,the Department of Atomic Energy and Department of Space became organizing partners of IISF. Other ministries related to science and technology also provide their support in the conduction of IISF. In a way we can say, IISF is a festival wherein majority of Departments of Government of India relatedS & T are involved. Throughout its existence, IISF has been associated with Vijnana Bharati, a national science movement led by eminent scientists in the country.
What do you think a secret behind IISF being the biggest gathering of Indian science community?
I think using the term secret here itself is not appropriate. There is no secret, everything is transparent here and is for the benefit of common man. Instead, we should use the term ‘special’ here because IISF provides a unique and special platform for inclusive participation of every section of society and attracts the attention of every person concerned with science and technology.
What are the opportunities available to participants of IISF 2023?
At this point, the window for registration as participant, which was open for approximately two months, is closed. The coordinators had initially invited participants, and the response received was overwhelming. However, individuals still have the option to attend these events as visitors, and the registration for that is still ongoing. Currently, there are approximately 12,000 registered attendees expected to be present at the combined campus of RCB and TSHTI at Faridabad. The huge number of registered attendees indicates why the festival is called a Mega Festival.
What is special about IISF 2023?
Yes, IISF 2023 has many special features. Traditionally IISF used to have an event called GuinnessBook of World Records where existing records used to be broken. From IISF 2023 onwards, it has been decided that our own records will be created. So, we are starting IISF challenge from this 9th edition wherein new records will be created for the world to take it as a challenge and break them. Also, there will be representatives from more than 22 countries which is why it is India International Science festival.
Sir do you have any message to our readers.
As I said earlier, if you are a student, researcher, academician, scientist, startup, industrialist, media representative, NGO representative and most importantly a common man who is inclined toward science, then this is a festival for you. IISF is the best platform to witness the growth and achievements of our country in the field of science and technology.