January 22, 2011

Open Science centres to kids

Curly Wee and Beetle Bailey were my favourite comic strips, courtesy The Mail.
The now-defunct eveninger of our city would be mine after Dad had run through the newspaper rather late. He would be home at about 6 p.m. and every evening he would pick up his copy of The Mail near the Jaffar's roundabout on Mount Road.
The Mail must have inspired me a lot.
Its office was 75 metres from the building where we lived and the only time I got to see it from the outside was on Sundays, when the family would walk down to the bus stop near The Hindu, its neighbour to make it for Sunday Mass at St. Mary's Co-Cathedral on Armenian Street.
On the pillars of the newspaper's office were a few notice boards which carried posters that screamed the top news headline of the day and enticed people to buy a copy.
I wish I had walked into those presses then.
I did a few years later when a senior Ed who used to handle Journalism classes in college invited us over. And our first little news items got published.
I didn't have time to share this story of mine with Prof. Dr. Asit Baran Mandal who is the Director of the world renowned Central Leather Research Institute in Adyar when I met him this past week.
I was a judge for what is perhaps the oldest oratorical competition in the Madras University zone and a prestigious one to win many decades ago. Named after
Dr. A L Mudaliar, a famed Vice-Chancellor of the University, the event has paled over the recent years. CLRI does its best to generate interest but the skills shown on stage were rather poor.
On the sidelines of this event I put it to Dr. Mandal that institutions like his and the many in what may have been a Science City should take more steps to get students from the Adyar neighbourhood to see the facilities, interact with researchers and meet scientists.
Yes, CLRI hosts a bunch of toppers every year.
But it could easily host a group from every Adyar school and help ignite the sparks not only among the brilliant but also among the ones who can only stare at the name boards and cannot enter the campus.
I hope the Prof. Mandals can do this.

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