A Tale of Discovery and Inspiration: Journey through the Indian Science Festival 2024

Feb 19, 2024

We had the privilege to attend the Indian Science Festival 2024 at the esteemed Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in Pune on January 20th and 21st, 2024. With a massive turnout of over 70,000 attendees from diverse backgrounds, including students, scholars, scientists, policymakers, and industry professionals, the event promised an immersive exploration of science, technology, innovation, and education.

Over the course of the two-day festival, we actively engaged in a wide array of events, including talks, panel discussions, immersive workshops, interactive demos, exhibits, fireside chats, competitions, and games. With an extensive lineup of over 300 events featuring more than 400 speakers from renowned institutions worldwide, the festival provided a rich platform to delve into cutting-edge research, breakthrough innovations, and thought-provoking discussions.

The festival kicked off with an intriguing talk by Annapurni Subramaniam from the Indian Institute of Astrophysics, who explored the question, "Why should we explore space?" This set the tone for the event, sparking discussions on the importance of space exploration.

We engaged in a fireside chat led by M Krishnamurthy from TIFR Hyderabad and Smitha Manohar from BARC Mumbai, moderated by Aditi Tandon, which delved into the multifaceted uses of nuclear power for industry and healthcare.

Tapan Gandhi from IIT Delhi offered insights into the journey of Artificial Intelligence, while Vineeth Venugopal from MIT, USA, discussed AI's transformative role in material science.

A lively debate ensued on whether AI poses a threat to India’s social and economic growth, featuring Dr. TV Venkateswaran from Vigyan Prasar and Prof Nisheeth Srivastava from IIT Kanpur, with moderation by Thomas Barlow.

The panel discussion "Chandrayaan-3: To the Moon and Back" provided a comprehensive overview of India's lunar mission, with contributions from experts Annapurni Subramaniam, Maneck Behramkamdin, and Somak Raychaudhury.

On the second day, panelists including Soumya Swaminathan and K VijayRaghavan envisioned the future of Indian science in the next decade, shedding light on key priorities and challenges.

Sudip Parikh from the American Association for the Advancement of Science offered perspectives on navigating varied career paths in science, while Nandini Chatterjee Singh explored the fascinating topic of how the brain learns to read.

The festival concluded with a panel discussion on how Indians celebrate science through arts, media, and entertainment, featuring insightful inputs from Nilanjan P. Choudhury and Pranav Radhakrishnan, moderated by Lewis Hou.

Our participation in the Indian Science Festival facilitated invaluable networking opportunities and collaborations across diverse fields of science and technology. Engaging discussions, interactive sessions, and thought-provoking presentations provided us with fresh insights into emerging trends and potential areas for collaboration and innovation.

Overall, our experience at the Indian Science Festival 2024 was both enriching and inspiring. We left with a renewed sense of curiosity, enthusiasm, and commitment to advancing scientific knowledge and driving positive change in society. We extend our gratitude to the organizers, speakers, and fellow participants for making this event a memorable and impactful experience.