HYDERABAD: While western countries are making money by opening the gates of their research institutes to the public, Indians have never seen it from a revenue point of view and the country’s scientists still believe that science tourism should be used to inspire young minds rather than make money out of it.
The suggestion made by Union minister of state for science and technology YS Chowdary on Saturday that the gates of scientific institutions could be opened to students and the public on every Sunday for income generation has not found favour with city scientists.
G Satheesh Reddy, director of Research Centre Imarat (RCI), said, “Science tourism is one aspect which needs more focus. We need to show our achievements to students and inspire them so that they take the path of science. We make sure that students of selected schools and colleges visit RCI and see what we are doing. Also, our scientists go to colleges to give lectures on specific topics. Recently, we have sent our scientists to Mahbubnagar and Warangal districts with this purpose.”
Noting that educational standards were going down, he said there was a dire need to improve them. “Without doing that we can’t expect miracles to happen. So, it is very important for students to know what scientists are doing and science tourism is the best way to motivate the young minds,” Satheesh Reddy added.
“Science tourism is quite common in the United States and Europe. Implementing it in India is a good idea but we are still in the nascent stage. Fixing an entry of Rs 10 or Rs 20 may be all right but charging more would keep away majority of people from visiting research centres. Another fact is that we don’t have heritage buildings under the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT) or Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) to attract public. The idea may work in the long run but right now entry fee won’t generate much income. Moreover, our main focus should be to encourage and inspire students,” said Srivari Chandrasekhar, director of IICT said.
Ch Mohan Rao, director of CCMB and National Geophysical Research Institute, said, “More than money our main focus should be on how do we get people from rural areas visit our research centres. Science has always been our strength and we should show how people are getting benefited from it. These days everyone wants to become an engineer or doctor.
“Even if we want to make money out of it, not many will come to see chemicals and molecules. We spend almost Rs 100 crore per year. If we introduce entry ticket, the maximum we may generate will be Rs 5 lakh and it hardly matters,” Rao said.