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Star-studded line-up for D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas
Panjim, Feb 4: Chief Minister Digambar Kamat will inaugurate the D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas on Saturday at Kala Academy, Panjim, to be followed by a lecture delivered by eminent scientist Dr Raghunath Mashelkar. This is the fourth edition of this lecture series, and will be held from February 5 to 10 at Kala Academy, Panjim.
Other speakers will include another great scientist and former President of India Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, Tibetan leader and Buddhist luminary His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Indian-born British economist and intellectual Lord Meghnad Desai, Human Rights activist and former Judge of South Africa’s Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs and Rajya Sabha MP, Hindu leader and President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Dr Karan Singh.
Saturday’s talk will have Dr Raghunath Mashelkar speaking about ‘Making the Impossible, Possible’, from 5 pm to 7.30 pm. Dr Mashelkar is the former Director General of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), a chain of 38 government research and development (R&D) institutions employing 20,000 scientists, which includes the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), located in Goa.
A son of Goa, Dr Mashelkar was born on January 1, 1943 in Mashel, Tiswadi, in a modest family. He went to school barefoot and almost had to give up studies owing to his family’s strained economic circumstances. Nevertheless, he was a rank holder in the matriculation examination.
An apocryphal story says that his school principal and science teacher, Bhave, once concentrated the rays of the sun through a magnifying lens on a paper till it burned and told him, “This lens is you. If you concentrate on your studies, one day you will reach the sky.” Though his mother could not support his college education, Dr Mashelkar managed to become a chemical engineer, won a Tata scholarship, went overseas and got his PhD degree.
He did ground-breaking work in polymer science and engineering, going on to become the head of the National Chemical Laboratory (NCL). He was then named Director General of the CSIR. Under his leadership, the CSIR was first in the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s (WIPO’s) Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) filings among developing nations in 2002. CSIR still has a 30-40 per cent share of all US patents granted to Indians in India during the last three years.
His personal experience of reaching the very top of his profession from the most dire of circumstances has convinced him that India is fated to become one of the world’s greatest intellectual and economic engines. He has been responsible for creating an unprecedented national awareness in India on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR).
He led the challenge to successfully revoke the US patent on the wound-healing properties of Turmeric. He also chaired the technical committee that successfully challenged and revoked US patents on Basmati Rice. This set in motion a movement for the protection of traditional knowledge in the entire developing world.
Two Sundays ago, Dr Mashelkar and former Atomic Energy Commission chief Dr Anil Kakodkar sat and listened to the dreams, hopes and aspirations of young people from across Goa at the youth convention for the Vision Document for Goa-2035 – to prepare a roadmap for the development of Goa – at Ravindra Bhavan, Margao. He remarked, after listening to the ideas of dozens of young Goan men and women that it was possibly among the finest three hours of his life.
Mashelkar is presently the president of the Global Research Alliance, a network of publicly funded research and development institutes from the Asia-Pacific region, South Africa, Europe and the USA with over 60,000 scientists. He is also the President of India’s National Innovation Foundation.
Other topics and timings:
Sun Feb 6: Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, ‘Imagination Leads to Creativity’, 5 pm to 6 pm.
Mon Feb 7: Dalai Lama, ‘Ethics for the New Millennium’, 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm.
Tue Feb 8: Lord Meghnad Desai, ‘Kosambi, Modernity and the Question of Social Inclusion’, 5 pm to 7.30 pm.
Wed Feb 9: Justice Albie Sachs, ‘Light on a Hill’, 5 pm to 7.30 pm.
Thu Feb 10: Dr Karan Singh, ‘The relevance of Vedanta in today’s context’, 5pm to 7.30 pm.
An interaction session between the public and the speaker is held subsequent to the talk.
The Directorate of Art & Culture initiated the D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas to commemorate the birth centenary of Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi, Indian mathematician, statistician, physicist, historian and polymath, and a great son of Goa. This festival is the only one of its kind in the country.