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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 27 February, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Guidelines for online conferences-was a Bottleneck

Guidelines for online conferences-was a Bottleneck

Introduction

  • The Centre has withdrawn the Education Ministry’s ill-thought-out guidelines for holding online conferences, seminars and training sessions.

Ill thought out a plan

  • Barriers: It created a bottleneck for scientists in public universities, colleges and organisations and erected new bureaucratic barriers in a pandemic-hit phase when virtual conferences are the only viable channel for researchers to collaborate with global peers.
  • No topic on Internal matters: Academicians and others organising the events were, as per the January circular, required to get prior official approval and ensure that the conference topics do not relate to the security of the state, border, the northeast, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, and broadly, any “internal matters”.
  • Mandatory use of specific technological tools: Event organisers were also mandated to give preference to technological tools and channels not owned or controlled by hostile countries or agencies.

Negative Impacts due to vague restriction on online conferences:

  • The effect of such a vague and abstruse set of instructions could only be to abandon efforts to organise conferences.
  • Detrimental effect on the development of science.
  • Virtual conferences acted as a substitute for face-to-face interactions, trust-building and team formation during the pandemic times. Hence vague restrictions on online conferences can act as a barrier to knowledge dissemination and scientific research.

Benefits of online collaborations

  • Higher attendance: Attendance at online events grew by 80% in 2020 over 2019 for the Plant Biology Worldwide Summit and over 300% for the American Physical Society meeting, as also for international meetings on cancer, lasers and electro-optics.
  • Stronger alliances: Many scientists also think a combination of post-COVID-19 physical conferences and new possibilities enabled by virtual collaborations promise to forge even stronger alliances.
  • Greater participation: An entirely new avenue has also opened up for national conferences with global experts taking part that researchers and students in the smallest towns can attend.

Conclusion

  • The humanities, too, need to be freed from paranoid restrictions on research topics, curbs on scholars, and the growing pressure to sanctify cultural notions of science and history.
  • Good sense has prevailed on the issue of online conferences, and it should lead to a more liberal approach to all research.

Source: TH


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