February 28th: Science Day of a Young Nation

“Ask the right questions, and nature will open the doors to her secrets”, quoted by the Great Indian physicist Chandrasekhar Venkata Raman, popularly known as C.V Raman.

On 28th of February, National Science Day is celebrated in India each year to mark the discovery of the Raman effect by him. It is being celebrated to widely spread a message about the emphasis of science and technology used in the daily life of the people. Efforts are put to ignite the minds scientifically and to popularize the science and technology.
National science day is celebrated as one of the main science festivals in India every year, where students of the schools and colleges demonstrate various science projects. The science institutions demonstrate their latest researches. The celebration also includes speeches by invitees, radio-TV talk shows, science movies,
science exhibitions based on themes and concepts, watching the night sky, live projects, research demonstration, debates, quiz competitions and many more.
This day is always celebrated with a theme. Given are the few themes with their years,

1999: “Our Changing Earth”,
2000: “Recreating Interest in Basic Science”,
2000:  “Information Technology for Science Education”,
2002: “Wealth from Waste”,
2003: “50 years of DNA & 25 years of IVF – The blue print of Life”,
2004 : “Encouraging Scientific Awareness in Community”,
2005:  “Celebrating Physics”,
2006: “Nurture Nature for our future”,
2007:  “More Crop Per Drop”,
2008 : “Understanding the Planet Earth”,
2009 : “Expanding Horizons of Science”,
2010 : “Gender Equity, Science & Technology for Sustainable Development”,
2011 : “Chemistry in Daily Life”,
2012 : “Clean Energy Options and Nuclear Safety”,
2013: “Genetically Modified Crops and Food Security”,
2014 :“Fostering Scientific Temper”,
2015: “Science for Nation Building”,
2016: "Scientific Issues for Development of the Nation".
And the theme of this year is "Science and Technology for Specially Abled Persons".
Raman was born on 7th November, 1888 at Trichirapalli in Tamil Nadu. His father was a physics teacher and so it was natural that Raman developed love for this subject. As a brilliant and promising lad, he passed his matriculation at the young age of 12. His parents wanted to send him to England for higher studies but his poor health did not allow it. He studied at Hindu College, Visakhapatnam and Presidency College, Madras. He topped the list in his post-graduation degree in physics in 1907. During his study period he conducted many researches and published his papers in many reputed magazines. He discovered that when light traverses a transparent material, some of the deflected light changes in wavelength. This phenomenon, subsequently known as Raman scattering, results from the Raman Effect.

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Raman Effect has proved to be of great scientific value and with its help the structure of more than 200 compounds has been known. This effect also explains the fact that the water molecules in sea scatter the white sunlight to wavelengths that mostly fall in the blue regime of light spectra and hence the sea appears blue. In 1954, India honoured him with its highest civilian award, the Bharat Ratna. His ground-breaking work in the field of light scattering, also earned him the 1930 Nobel Prize for Physics. With this award, his reputation increased by leaps and bounds and many Universities and institutions of repute honoured him with Ph D and D.Sc. degrees. In 1933 he became the Director of the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore. In 1943 he founded the Raman Research Institute at Bangalore. He was knighted in 1927 and was awarded the International Lenin Prize in 1957.
Raman’s caliber was not limited to physics alone. Besides optics, he was deeply interested in acoustics—the science and study of sound. His contributions to the mechanical theory of bowed, stringed and other musical instruments like violin, sitar, cello, piano, veena, Tanpura and mridangam have been very significant. He explained in detail how these musical instruments produce harmonious tones and notes.

In 1907, Raman got the first position in the Financial Service Examination and was appointed as the Assistant Accountant General in Calcutta. He was a born genius and a self-made man and scientist with deep religious convictions. His interests were wide and deep and so were his contributions to the human knowledge and development. Two days before Raman died, he told one of his former students, "Do not allow the journals of the Academy to die, for they are the sensitive indicators of the quality of science being done in the country and whether science is taking root in it or not." That same evening, Raman met with the Board of Management of his Institute and discussed (from his bed) with them any proceedings with regards to the Institute's  management.

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Raman died from natural causes early next morning on 21st  November 1970 and his mortal remains were consigned to flames in the campus of the Raman Research Institute. However, winning the Nobel Prize by one or two scientists from the land of the second most populated place in the world is less than half the battle. We are still lost in a maze made of corruption, politics, epidemics, poverty and lot many. We are so busy with the essay on ‘unity in diversity’ that scholars now make profound statements like “there are many Indias within India”. We don’t know where we have lost ourselves.

Let us work hand-in-hand to achieve a good, successful and healthy life utilizing the science and technology to continue the legacy that is far away from frustration remembering what Raman said in one of his quotes, “Success can come to you by courageous devotion to the task lying in front of you”. Let us all celebrate science day with full gusto and pay homage from the core of our heart to C. V. Raman.

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Mushahidul Ahmed

The author has B.Tech and M.Tech degrees from Tezpur University, India. He is now working in Morigaon College as an Assistant Professor. Apart from quizzes, he has a tangential interest for mathematics and basketball.

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