Organisers awaiting funds for science congress

By Archita Bhatta
Published: Monday 15 January 2007

only a few weeks are left for scientists to meet at the annual Indian Science Congress and the organisers are still looking out for funds. The meet will be held from January 3-7, 2007, at the Annamalai University, Annamalainagar, Tamil Nadu.

"Target budget for the meet is Rs 6 crore, of which the central government's Department of Science and Technology (dst) will provide Rs 80 lakh, the University Grants Commission will provide Rs 15 lakh and the Indian Space Research Organisation will fund Rs 20 lakh," T Balasubramanian, general-secretary of the 2007 Congress, said. Balasubramaniam is also trying to raise funds from private companies such as Reliance, the Tatas and organisations like the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. But till December 22, he had not received any written assurances.

Under the current arrangement, the Indian Science Congress receives only little allocation from the central government, while the rest is bore by the host state. "Each annual event costs between Rs 5 crore and Rs 10 crore," said Amit Kiran Deb, executive general secretary of the Science Congress Association. However, with expenditures shooting up, the arrangement is becoming a burden on the states. Last year, of the Rs 6 crore demanded by the Science Congress Association, the host state Andhra Pradesh bore Rs 3 crore. During the curtain raiser ceremony for the Congress 2007, held in Delhi on November 2, 2006, K Vijayakumari, member-secretary of the Andhra Pradesh State Council of Science and Technology, suggested that the Centre should allocate more money through the Planning Commission for the event.

However, Dhirendra Sharma, who taught science policy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, feels that states should not spend the taxpayer's money on the Congress and arrange funds from industry. "All that goes on in the name of the Congress is politics... the scientific agenda of the future is not discussed at all," he says.

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