The IIT Kharagpur campus came alive today with the arrival of 32 teams of school children from all over India, as well as east and west Asia for the Young Innovators Program. For many of the children and their teachers and parents, it had been a long journey from home, but the excitement of reaching their destination and being part of the milling crowd of participants and guests refreshed them in no time. The children especially got down to the business of knowing each other almost immediately. As the day wore off, it was difficult to believe that some of them were meeting each other for the first time.
But then, the first day of the competition was all about familiarizing – especially with the campus. Through the tree-lined roads of the campus, the buses took them post-lunch to see the main academic complex, the Halls of residence, the Gymkhana, Nalanda, the tea garden and finally the Nehru Museum. Before that they had dropped in at the newly-opened DIY Lab of IIT Kharagpur, where they successfully managed to stump Prof. Vikranth Racherla, who showed them around the lab, with their questions. “I have never been asked so many questions even by my own students. I am so happy to see their curiosity,” said Prof. Racherla.
At the formal inauguration of the competition that followed the screening of a film on IIT Kharagpur, the guests were warmly welcomed by the Director of IIT Kharagpur, Prof. Sriman Kumar Bhattacharyya, together with Dean, International Relations, Prof. Baidurya Bhattacharya, and Associate Dean, Prof. Anandaroop Bhattacharya. The biggest event of the day was the ‘Pledge for the Environment’ that all the 300 assembled guests undertook at the Kalidas auditorium together with the organizers of YIP 2019. As custodians of the Green Planet, each in that congregation pledged to “respect all living things and the natural environment on which they depend, for each is a part of the chain that supports life on Earth.”
The children’s voices were heard the loudest in that pledge-taking. And no surprises there. “Energy and Environment” has been the most popular theme for students this year with the maximum teams competing in that category. From devising how harmful emissions from vehicles can be reduced, to waste water recycling, treatment and reuse, biodegradable sanitary pads, bioplastics, biodegradation of PET bottles, minimizing food waste , several other environment-friendly innovations have made way to the penultimate round of YIP 2019.
From here the mood will turn serious as teams battle each other to lift the winning trophy of this international competition. Irrespective of who wins, there is no doubt that Environment will emerge a big winner. “I haven’t burst crackers for two years,” said one from Team Green Trenders from St Arnolds School in Rourkela. “I haven’t burst crackers for four years,” said another contestant from the same team. They are here to show how bioplastics can be made from yam starch.
Seems like the Environment has won already.