Chennai: India’s former President and Missile Man Dr APJ Kalam believed in empowering the youth in order to make India a superpower. His former organization, the ISRO (Indian Space Research Organization) is doing just that with its new initiative Yuvika- Young Scientist Programme.

The two-week residential programme is aimed at imparting basic knowledge on Space Technology, Space Science and Space Applications. The travel, boarding and course material fee for students participating in Yuvika is borne by the ISRO.

Over a lakh of students from Class 8 and 9 had applied for the programme. Out of the total applicants, around 110 students from across the States and Union territories were selected on the basis of their academic scores, membership in science clubs and other co-curricular activities.

The participating students have the unique opportunity to visit the four centers of ISRO which include Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Thiruvananthapuram, U R Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, Space Applications Centre in Ahmedabad and North Eastern Space Applications Centre Shillong. The programme includes a discussion by eminent scientists and experts, lab visits and hands-on training.

Interaction with ISRO Chairman

On Friday, which is the fifth day of the course, the students got the opportunity to visit the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, which is India’s launch port. They also had the opportunity to interact with Dr K Sivan the Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization during the first ‘Yuvika-Samwad-2019’ held earlier in the day. Further, the students witnessed the launch of a Sounding rocket.

Addressing the students, Dr Sivan urged them to remain curious and ask questions as that’s what makes a scientist. Whatever benefits we are enjoying in terms of safety, security and quality of life, it is all because of Science and technology developed here and elsewhere. Making it tear that the Yuvika programme will be held every single year, he said that they should even create a Yuvika Alumni Association.

The students also peppered Dr Sivan with several questions ranging from the possibility of space warfare to ISRO’s vision for the coming decades. Dr Sivan’s answers provided key insights into the prevailing scenario in the world of space science and the way ahead.

On space warfare, he said, “space does not belong to any particular country and as per law there is no chance of war and that countries are only getting prepared to defend themselves”.

Speaking of what makes ISRO special Sivan opened up about the power of planning, transparency, teamwork and review system. He said that ISRO had a review culture where a newbie who is fresh out of college can question the Chairman regarding the mission.

Dr Sivan mentioned a study conducted by the teams from IIT, which revealed that for every Rupee spent on the Indian Space Programme the return was ten times.

The Chairman presented the students with Medals in recognition of their participation in the Yuvika Initiative. Students queued up to cheerily pose for pictures with Dr Sivan and also get his autograph.

Speaking to WION about the Yuvika Programme, Razel a student from Chandigarh said, “This is a leading step for all young scientists of India because we do not get this kind exposure elsewhere and we learnt how practical science is more exciting.”

“From my childhood, I have been aspiring about being a space scientist and was thinking of going to the US or Europe, but I got to know about ISRO and what it is doing for India, I wanted to become a space scientist and work for India” said Adit, a participant of the Yuvika initiative.

Written by Sidharth M P, WION