Fate of Indian Science Congress

Dr. S. S. VERMA; Department of Physics, S.L.I.E.T., Longowal; Distt.-Sangrur (Punjab)-148 106

2024-02-25 07:18:05

Credit: pixabay.com

Credit: pixabay.com

The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) is a professional body under Department of Science & Technology, Government of India. ISCA is a premiere scientific organization of the country established in 1914 (110 years ago). The Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) owes its origin to the foresight and initiative of two British chemists, namely, Professor J. L. Simonsen and Professor P. S. MacMahon. It occurred to them that scientific research in India might be stimulated if an annual meeting of research workers somewhat on the lines of the British Association for the Advancement of Science could be arranged.

ISCA has been promoting science and inculcating the spirit of science through its multifarious activities.  ISCA meets in the first week of January in an Annual Congress of scientists, science administrators, policy makers and the general public to give a stronger impulse and a more systematic direction to scientific inquiry, to promote interaction of societies and individuals interested in science in different parts of the country and to focus more general attention to the objectives pure and applied sciences. ISCA brings together scientists both from India and abroad for mutual interaction in the cause of national development. The Annual Congress of the Association has been held every year since 1914 with very distinguished scientists as its General President.

Presently, it has a membership of more than 30,000 scientists. There are now fourteen sections, including Agriculture and Forestry sciences; Animal, Veterinary and Fishery sciences; Anthropological and Behavioral sciences (including Archaeology and Psychology & Educational sciences); Chemical science; Earth system science; Engineering science; Environmental science; Information and Communication science & technology (including Computer science); Material science; Mathematical science (including Statistics); Medical science (including Physiology); New Biology (including Biochemistry, Biophysics & Molecular Biology; and Biotechnology); Physical science; and Plant science.

Under the ages of ISCA, with its vision, mission, objectives and functions as below, Indian Science Congress is held as an annual event.

Vision: To inculcate scientific temper among the common people.


  • To make people aware about the recent developments in Science & Technology and its impact on the society.
  • To establish different centres all over India for spreading scientific knowledge through school/college programs.
  • To provide a common platform where scientists from India & abroad can exchange their views.


  • To advance and promote the cause of science in India.
  • To hold an annual congress at a suitable place in India.
  • To publish such proceedings, journals, transactions and other publications as may be considered desirable.
  • To secure and manage funds and endowments for the promotion of Science including the rights of disposing of, or selling all or any portion of the properties of the Association.
  • To do and perform any or all other acts, matters and things as are conducive to, or incidental to, or necessary for, the above objects.


  • To provide a platform where scientists from all over the world can meet to discuss about the developments in the areas of Science & Technology.
  • To contribute into the development of Science and National Science Policies.
  • To organize Symposia, Invited Lectures and paper Presentations on different topics under 14 different sections and plenary sessions around various facets of focal theme in which scientists, technologists, policy makers and administrators can interact with one another during the annual session.
  • To put up a bilateral program with foreign scientific academics/associations for the advancement of Science in the topics of mutual interest.
  • To hold Science awareness program all over the country through Chapters.
  • To encourage participation of Young Scientists in different areas of Science through ISCA Young Scientists Award Program.
  • To propagate the latest message of Science in all its varied branches through publication of Everyman’s Science.
  • To Institute endowment awards in the name of scientific personalities.

The first Indian Science Congress was held in 1914 at the Asiatic Society in Calcutta and continued till last year i.e., 2023 without a miss. With passing time, it celebrated its Silver jublee (25th year), Golden jubilee (50th year), Diamond jubilee (60th year) and Platinum jubilee (75th year), Centenary edition (100th year). Several prominent Indian and foreign scientists, including Nobel laureates, attend and speak in the congress. Prime ministers of India inaugurate the congress. After attracting various speech-related controversies in recent years, the association established a policy that requires speakers at future conferences to be vetted and scrutinizes the content of their talks.

All the congresses have been held with a time bound theme and the theme for the upcoming 109th ISC – “The Global Perspective on Science and Technology for a Sustainable Future”, emphasises the crucial role of global cooperation and innovation in addressing the challenges of the modern world. However, 109th Indian Science Congress which was proposed to be held from 3-5 January 2024 at Lovely Professional University Phagwara Punjab has been cancelled by the DST which has alleged “financial irregularities” and a “unilateral decision” by a few ISCA office bearers, without government approval, to shift the venue of the 2024 session from Lucknow University to Lovely Professional University at Jalandhar as the reasons for dissociating with the 2024 edition of the Congress.

With the Indian Science Congress missing its usual early January schedule, there is uncertainty about it being held at all this year, and perhaps in future. The annual event, which has been held every year for over a century, has been an important event in the country’s science calendar. After Independence, Prime Ministers have always inaugurated it, which underlined its importance as a national event and the political leadership’s belief in promoting science as the way to achieve progress and development. First Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru considered it as a forum to encourage science and the scientific spirit. The country’s top scientists and scientific institutions and organisations participated in the event. It was a forum for scientists and researchers at all levels and students and the general public to meet and interact. Useful and informative discussions were held on papers and exhibits presented. Over the years, it has been held in all parts of the country, even in small towns. 

At present, in view of most of the top scientists of India as well as abroad, the Science Congress has lost some of its value and reputation over the years. Many top scientists do not attend it now and many institutions are not keen on participation. The standard of papers and the quality and level of discussions have gone down. Controversies have arisen over issues, including the topics of papers which were presented. With the government’s refusal to financially support the event, it faces a crisis now. ISCA has been organising the event with funds from the government. The government has refused to fund it now, charging the society with “financial irregularities” and “unilateral decision-making”.  Let us hope that DST and ISCA will reach an amicable solution very soon and this unique scientific activity will continue to be organized for the benefit of scientific community.