Saturday, November 15, 2008

Natioanl Discussion on SF-A News Round-Up !

National Council for Science & Technology Communication (NCSTC)
Indian Science Fiction Writers' Association (ISFWA)
Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies (IASFS)
The First Ever National Discussion
Science Fiction: Past, Present, Future
November 10-14, 2008, Varanasi, India
Venue : Sanjay Motels & Resorts, NH-56, Babatpur, Varanasi.
Can you imagine having a barbecue ethnic dinner on the holy bank of the Ganges after having a full view of the light of earthen lamps on the Ghats of the Ganges? Can you imagine a puppet show at the beginning of a conference and Shehnai Vaadan by the nephew of Shahnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and also a magic show on two of the nights of the conference before dinner on the lawns of a resort under moonlit night and a visit to Sarnath, the famous Buddhist pilligrimage / Yes this excursion like ambience was provided during the National Conference on SF by the ingenious, innovative and carefully through out programme by Dr. Arvind Mishra, the Co-ordinator and convener of National Conference on S.F.
The First Ever national Discussion on Science Fiction jointly organized by National Council for Science and Technology Communication, Indian Science Fiction Writers Associations and Indian Association for Science Fiction Studies was held as Sanjay Motels and Resorts, Varanasi from 10 to 14 November 2008. The conference began with a press conference in “Pradkar Smriti Bhawan’ at Maidagin ,Varanasi, which was addressed by Dr. Arvind Mishra, Co-ordinator of the event. Dr Mishra outlined the objectives and details of the programme. In the evening a puppet show on SF story of Zeashan H .Zaidy was presented by Arshad Umar, a puppeteer from Lucknow. The highlight of the day was a talk on World Science Day entitled ‘ Facts and Fiction’ by Dr Nellai S Muthu, Scientist, Chennai in which be presented a detailed history of the expeditions to the moon.
The Conference was formally inaugurated in a grand function on 11th Nov. 2008. The Chief Guest on this occasion was Professor S.N. Dubey, Vice-Chancellor of JRH Chitrakoot University, U.P. The inaugural function was presided over by Dr. Manoj Patairiya, Director of NCSTC, New Delhi. The Key-note address was given by Marathi Science Fiction Writer Dr. Y.H. Deshpande. In his key-note addressed he traced the origin of Indian SF in the great epic Mahabharata. The Chief Guest, respectable Vice-Chancellor S.N. Dubey underlined the importance of reading Science fiction for spreading science awareness. The other distinguished Speakers who spoke on various aspects of Science Fiction were former director of BAL BHAWAN , New Delhi and Shri Hemant Kumar, a senior littérateur from Lucknow. The presidential address was given Dr. Manoj Patairiya; and the vote of thanks was proposed by Dr. R.R. Upadhyaya, President of ISFWA, Faizabad. On this occasion three books on/of SF by Dr. Ratnakar D Bhelkar, Mr Harish Goyal and Mr S.N. Dubey, were also released by the chief guest of the function.
The inaugural function was followed by two technical sessions. The first technical session was on the historical perspective of science fiction. The chairman of the session Professor S.M. Gupta opened the session by raising important issues to be discussed at the session such as science fiction, role of fantasy in SF, mythology and reinterpretation of mythology in SF and the futuristic vision of Science fiction Dr. Gauhar Raza made a distinction between an artist and a scientist and stated that an artist not only revisions future but also revisits and reinvents the past. But the study of science is accumulative in nature in that future scientific inventions are built on the past inventions. He emphasized the need for forging the future of SF rather than the analysis of its past history. Dr. Arvind Dubey, a pediatrician by profession and sf buff , emphasized the need to identity the first SF story. He rejected the view that Many Shelley "Frankenstein" is the first SF in English. According to him Lucian's "True Story" (2nd Century A.D.) and Kepler's "Somnium" (1634) are the best contenders to be first S.F.
According to Dr. Arul Aram H.G. Well's novels have post-modernistic trend in them. He emphasized the need of social responsibility as a component of SF.
Dr.C.M. Nautiyal drew a distinction between SF and fantasy and emphasized the need for the writer to be acquainted with the laws of Science before attempting to write SF.
The Second Technical Session on Understanding Science Fiction-A Cognitive Approach began under the chairpersonship of Dr. Vibhavari Deshpande. The speakers outlined the current trends in SF. Dr Thirumani stated that contemporary sf is an easy way to understand science. Mr. Harish Goyal, a writer of Hindi SF made a case for prescribing science fiction in the curriculum at school and college levels. Mr Vishnu Prasad Chaturvedi underlined the importance of science element as a necessary component of SF.
The third technical session was devoted to the current trends in SF. Anwesha Maity presented a comparison between Japanese and Bengali SF and pointed out that both started as adventure stories. Reema Sarwal drew the attention of the audience to the similarities between SF and post colonial writings. Zakir Ali, Rajnish, a noted SF writer for children pointed out the need to make SF interesting for children. Two joint papers were also presented on SF movies by M. Venkadeshan, M. Srividyas and NS Samath Kumar and S. Valligauthans. They pointed out the special effects created by the Sf Cinema. Ratnakar Bhelkar stated that Fantasy is not the opposite of reality but the other side of reality. Anil Kumar Vishwa and Jaiprakash pointed out that new trends in the form of reinterpretation of mythology are developing is SF.
On 12th November 2008, Technical Session-IV : Science Fiction for Science communication started with the paper of Mr. Unni Krishnanan who stressed that S.F. should be taught as S.F. and not as a tool for teaching the language. Meenu Khare said that SF can be presented effectively through radio. "Animation films, cartoons and comic strips always attract children" said Amit Kumar. He stressed the need to produce SF comics and cartoon films so that difficult concepts of Science can be taught easily.
In the V technical session Hemant Kumar Spoke on the latest trends of SF. Zeashan Haider Zaidy pointed out the importance of SF and suggested the ways to popularize it. Amit Kumar presented a comparative study of Hindi mainstream stories with those of SF. Arshad A Umer advocated the presentation of SF through puppetry.
The greatest achievement of the conference was the preparation of the outlines of 'Benaras Document on SF 2008' under the leadership of Dr Manoj Patairiya. This document will contain definition of SF, scope of SF and ways and means of writing, training and popularizing science fiction in this country. The important suggestion that was put forward was the establishment of a SF cell to train young writers to write SF; to translate SF across Indian languages and into English.
The Valedictory function was held in the after noon of 13 Nov. 2008. The Chief Guest of the was Prof. S.N. Upadhaya the Director of IIT Benaras . In this address, Prof. Dubey suggested the need to reinterpret Indian mythology to address to modern environmental problems of pollution. Dr Manoj Patairiya presented " Benaras Document on sf -2008' in its preliminary form and said that it will prove to be a landmark work document in the propagation of SF. The guest of hononour on this occasion were shri P.K. Mishra, Chief Co-ordinator IIP Cell B.H.U. and the function was presided over by R.K. Singh Chief Conservator of Forest H.P. The vote of thank, was proposed by Dr. Arvind Mishra, the coordinator and convener of the conference.
By-Prof.Sagar Mal Gupta

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