The year 2020 has witnessed the world passing through a critical phase because of the outbreak of an infectious novel coronavirus. Inspite of the unprecedented advancements in science and technology scientists all over the world have been struggling hard to find a cure for this new epidemic, which has turned into a pandemic. With no precise solution in hand the only way out is to adopt preventive measures like restricting human activities in a scientific manner to limit the spread of the dreadful virus. The restrictions, in turn, have seriously affected travel, transportation, trade, industries and related things hampering routine life and bringing an economic slowdown.

Needless to say, this situation has forced everyone across the world to find out solutions that are essentially local. Our Prime Minister, acknowledging the circumstances, has rightfully given a clarion call for ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ – a self-reliant India. Having recognized the vital role of science, technology and innovation in achieving self-reliance during this period of crisis the Indian S&T fraternity and all R&D institutions have responded swiftly and successfully to the call. This has helped immensely in building the desired confidence amongst people. There is a need to convey and showcase the achievements and actions taken to gain self-reliance through S&T to the society. India International Science Festival of 2020 – IISF 2020 – brings in an opportunity to demonstrate the strength and potential of Indian S&T not only to the people of India but to the entire international community as well.

During this turbulent time we, as a country, have encountered various international challenges, especially because of the aggressive attitude of neighbors in the region. We stood steadfast and courageously displayed our indomitable resolve to protect our national interests. This reminds us of the techno centric exercise carried out by Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, in the last years of the 20th century, to bring out ‘Technology Vision 2020’ to achieve the status of a developed nation. In this visionary document he expressed and emphasized the need to achieve self-reliance in strategic sectors in the context of national security. There is a greater need to build indigenous S&T capability to protect the sovereignty of the country.

A unified and generous worldview, based on the philosophy of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, exhorts us to utilize Indian S&T advancements for both – ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Global welfare’. It is time to make the world see the role of Indian Scientists for addressing global challenges to achieve welfare of entire creation.

“Science for Self-Reliant India and Global Welfare” has therefore been chosen as the focal theme of the Sixth India International Science Festival (IISF) to be held during 22-25 December 2020. The Sixth IISF will be unusual in the sense that in keeping with the demands of the times it will be organized in a virtual environment.

Launched in 2015, the India International Science Festival (IISF) has become a much-awaited annual event that celebrates Science & Technology, demonstrates how science could lead the country’s progress, and shows how Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) provide us with the solutions to improve our lives. The unique platform of the India International Science Festival was created by the Ministry of Science & Technology, the Ministry of Earth Sciences and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in association with Vijnana Bharati (VIBHA) to inspire curiosity and make learning more rewarding for the young, while motivating the public to engage with and celebrate the joy of science.

The past editions of the India International Science Festival have utilized a combination of conventional engagement activities such as seminars, workshops, exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions and debates with interactive forms of engagement including hands-on demonstrations; film and magic shows; interactive dialogues with experts, and science-related theatre, music and poetry. The science festivals provide a vibrant environment for students and citizens from all walks of life to witness science in action and also scientists, inventors and researchers a chance to interact closely with other experts as also the public, especially the young. The festival is designed to instill creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving ability, and teamwork among the country’s youth to take the country forward.

This year, the India International Science Festival begins on 22 December 2020, the birthday of Srinivas Ramanujan, and culminates on 25 December 2020, the birthday of former Prime Minister of India Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Ramanujan was a world-renowned Indian mathematician and an inspiring figure among the pantheon of Indian scientists. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a much-loved political figure who added to the inspiring slogan of Jai Jawan Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan – reflecting his deep commitment to the belief that S&T would always be at the core of the nation’s progress.

We hope the Sixth India International Science Festival will provide the spark of innovativeness and a strong belief in science and scientists among the country’s citizens that will catapult the country into becoming a world leader.