A Two Days collaborative programme of NASI and NEHU

Date: Jun 18, 2024

“S & T intervention and involvement of women: A  Northeast India perspective”  programme at NEHU, Shillong on 14th -15th June 2024.

A two days programme on “ Science & technology Intervention for the development of North-east region involving women” organized by the National Academy of Sciences India (NASI) NER Chapter in collaboration with North-Eastern Hill University started at NEHU Campus Shillong with the Inaugural session graced by high profile scientists of the country. The inauguration of the programme was held at Golden Jubilee Auditorium of the University on 14th June 2024   which started with lighting of the lamp by Hon’ble Vice Chancellor Prof. P.S. Shukla, Prof. N. Saha, Dean School of Life Sciences and Prof. Anupam Chatterjee, the Chairperson of the NASI NER Chapter.  Prof. S.R. Joshi, Secretary of NASI NER Chapter in his welcome address stated that the entire programme was conceived and developed by Dr Manju Sharma, Former Secretary to the Govt of India. It was followed by an address by Dr Manju Sharma on the genesis of the Programme who briefed on the need of organizing such event and how it plays an important role in bringing to the masses the contributions of women scientists from the perspectives of  Northeast India. She said that young generation needs to be motivated and sensitized on the role and responsibility the youth of today has for the growth of our country. She emphasized the need for higher enrolment of students in mainstream science for development of human resource pertinent to science and technology and illustrated on how Northeast women have been making their mark in the scientific development of the country. Prof. P.S Shukla, Vice Chancellor of NEHU in his keynote address thanked NASI for reaching out to the university  to organise such important programme which holds relevance to Northeast and Meghalaya in particular. He emphasized the significant roles played by women  of Meghalaya in society and how technology interventions at grass root level can augment in their contributions to the society and the nation as a whole. He related the Sustainable Development Goals with the role and contribution of women and the need to strengthen the grass root rhuamn resources for its achievement. Prof. Nalin Mehta, Director of NEIGRIHMS in his special address highlighted the role of institutions located in Northeast in development of the region with special emphasis on health and hygiene. He mentioned that medical institutions while assisting the medical sector and health of the region are making efforts in creating a healthy human base in Northeast. He narrated the importance of science education in school and colleges and emphasized how significant traditional knowledge can be in preserving cultural and natural heritage.  Prof. Balram Bhargava, Former Director General at  Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi and Secretary of the Department of Health Research; a division under Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India gave the inaugural address. A scientist par excellence, Prof. Bhargava specialises in Cardiology, and was the pillar behind the development of indigenous vaccines for Corona in India during the Covid-19 pandemic. He spoke at length on S & T as key to development youngsters should come forward and take initiatives in sustaibale development of the region..

Dr Archna Pant, Young women Scientist at NASI headquarters at Prayagraj, proposed the vote of thanks acknowledging the effor of the scientists in sparing their time to particpate in the programme as resorce person and NEHU for coming forward to hold the programme.

 The academic session on “ Status of Biodiversity & Agriculture in NE India: Problems and Prospects” had the participation of Prof. Paramjit Khurana, a renowned Plant Molecular Biologist at Delhi University and Dr. Subhra Chakraborty, Director of NIPGR, New Delhi opening the session with their remarks on biodiversity rich Northeast India and its potential for development of the region in years to come. The first invited talk in the session was delivered by Prof. Pramod Tandon, Forner VC, NEHU & CEO of Biotech Park, Lucknow. He presented an overall view od the bidoversity and enourmous rich biodiversity existing in Northeast and how it can be translated into Bioeconomy with sustainable approach. Prof. S.R. Joshi presented his talk on women empowerment at grass root level and how scientific interventions have been undergoing to empower the rural women for income generation and overall development of the agriculture sector in Northeast. Prof Madhumita Barooah of Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat talked about the indigenous knowledge, natural welath and traditioonal practices which are inherent to Northeast India.

The afternoon session on the Inaugural day had Dr Renu Swarup, Former Secretary to Department of Biotechnology, Govt of India chairing the session on “ Health issues of women: Focus on malnutrition in NE India”  which was co-chaired by Prof Madhumita Barooah of AAU, Jorhat. Dr. Renu Swarup  highlighted on the institutional growth that has happened in Northest and how they have helped in developing human resources as well as technology for their societal benefits. She underlined the fact that scientists from Northeast are making mark in the national arena by way of outstanding contributions in science and technology and how vital nutritions and human growth is for the region and the nation as a whole.  He stated that with challenges NE India also provides enormous advantages which can be exploited by scientists for its translational endproducts. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Bharti Kulkarni, Scientist G’ and Head, Division of Reproductive and Child Health and Nutrition, Indian C’ouncil of Medical Research, New Delhi. She dwelt on the health issues and nutritional relevance for keeping onself healthy specially referrring to women giving an overview of the status of women in Northeast India.  Prof. MV Padma Srivastava , Head , Department of Neurology and Chief of Neuroscience Centre at  AIIMS , New Delhi spoke on cardiovascular health and elaborated on the incresing trend in strokes even among the young generation and how education, awareness and dietay habits are releted to cardiac health. She suggested for more Cardiac Care Centres and Emergency support systems for acses of  strokes that are needed for Northeast India. Dr A. Laxmaiah, Scientist G & Head , Division of Public health Nutrition at ICMR-national Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad spoke on what makes a god diet on a plate and gave detailed account of health, nutrition and complete dietray composition for sustaining good  health of individuals.

This was followed by an engrossing talk by Dr. Smita Mahale, Former Director, ICNR-NIRRCH, Mumbai who made an elucidated presentation on early marriage, malnutrition and malnutrion. She empahsized on the importance of educating students on vaccination, good diets and menstrual health.

The second day of the event had session on ‘Gender issues in NE India” which was chaired by Prof. Anupam Chatterjee., Dean, School of Biosciences at The Royal Global University Guwahati. Prof Dinabandhu Sahoo of Department of Botany, University of Delhi  spoke on the richeness of diversity amnd rsources and how women have been contributing but talso a need for greater empowerment. It was followed by a talk by Prof. Latha Rangan from the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering, IIT Guwahati who dwelt on the diverse aspect of resources, culture, the family, rituals and society in general of Northeast. She stressed on the role of women in the conservation and sustainable use of  resources thorugh traditional knowledge but a caution that gender disparity and inequality still persist in Northeast and there is a need to change the mindset to equla participation. Prof Pratibha Jolly, Former Principal, Miranda House, New Delhi gave her talk on efforts made at the national level and how ‘GATI’ can be adopted to analyse strengths and weaknesses at the institutional level.

The concluding session was chaired by Dr. Manju Sharma who summarised the sessions and she suggested to plan such programmes in different isntitutions across Northeast to benefit students from other regions as well. The programme was attended by students and teachers from different colleges of Shillong apart frm the scholars and postgraduate students of the university. It experienced intense interaction between the participants and the resource persons. Resolutions were adopted on  issues concerning discussed aspects and was suggested to be forwarded to appropriate government agencies for their consideration. The concluded with a summary and gratitude offered by Dr. Santosh Shukla, Assistant Executive Secreatary, NASI Head Quarters. Certificates to the particpants were given away by Prof. Anupam Chatterjee and Prof. S.R. Joshi, the Chirperson and Secretary   of the NASI NER Chapter.