The 97th edition of the premier Indian Science Congress (ISC 2010) began in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday on an upbeat note with chief guest Prime Minister Manmohan Singh being accorded a traditional welcome with musical tones and invocational songs.
Kerala Governor RS Gavai, state Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan and general president of the five-day event G Madhavan Nair greeted Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur at the flower-decked venue for the inaugural function of the five-day mega event amid tight security.
Singh is accompanied by union ministers Vayalar Ravi, Prithviraj Chavan and Shashi Tharoor. Ravi and Tharoor hail from this southern state.
Minutes later, Singh was led on to the dais in a procession and seated centre-stage after the council members took their seats.
About 6,000 delegates, seated in the huge makeshift tented hall (pandal), gave a standing ovation to the prime minister and other VIPs amid claps and cheers.
Nair, a former member of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) delivered the welcome address after invocation and lighting of the lamp.
Manmohan Singh will inaugurate the congress and address eminent scientists, Nobel laureates, policy makers and students on the technology challenges and the direction in which the country should move to find innovative solutions to achieve equitable growth and development.
As the congress is being held for the first time in this Kerala capital, unprecedented security arrangements have been made, with about 1,000-policemen deployed in and around the sprawling campus of Kerala University at Karyavottam, about 15 km from the coastal city.
"The campus has been sanitised in accordance with the security measures required to protect the country's prime minister. For security reasons, we cannot share the details," a senior police officer told IANS.
Prior to delivering the inaugural address, Singh will release the plenary proceedings of the science congress and present 24 awards to noted scientists and research scholars.
The awards are instituted by the Kolkata-based Indian Science Congress Association (ICSA), the main organiser of the five-day event.
General president of the science congress and former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chairman G Madhavan Nair will outline the various programmes and activities of the 97th edition of the congress.
The green campus has been given a face-lift and its surroundings spruced up to befit the grand occasion.
Eminent scientists like MS Swaminathan, father of India's green revolution, former atomic energy secretary Anil Kakodkar, space commission member Roddam Narasimhan and Nobel laureate Irving Zucker will be the noted speakers at eight plenary sessions.
Former president APJ Abdul Kalam, distinguished scientists MGK Menon and CNR Rao and Nobel laureate Roger Tsien will deliver public lectures.
The plenary and public lectures will provide broader international perspectives and create awareness about the role of science in society.
Kalam will also inaugurate Monday the 'Children Science Congress' being held as part of the national event.
A major attraction at the congress is a science exhibition showcasing the latest scientific developments and achievements in the country.