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Monday, July 02, 2001

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India to host Chemistry Olympiad

By Arunkumar Bhatt

MUMBAI, JULY 1. Over 215 high school students from 54 countries will clink beakers and test-tubes to win medals at the 33rd International Chemistry Olympiad (33rd IChO) that India will be hosting in Mumbai from July 6 next.

Each country is sending a team of four participants along with two teachers. The Indian team comprises Aditya Bannerjee of Chennai, Vivek Kumar of Lucknow, Saubhagya Sahu of Rourkela and Avinash Varna of Bangalore. They are led by Dr. D.V. Prabhu of Wilson College and Dr. Leena Rao of SIES College.

The Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (HBCSE), a national centre of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), is the nodal agency for India's participation in the science Olympiads in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. The participants are selected in a three-stage screening process in collaboration with the teacher's association of the subject concerned.

This is just the third year of Indian participation in the Chemistry Olympiad. Bangkok was the host city in 1999 and Copenhagen in 2000; and India is hosting the event amid tremendous appreciation in the international Chemistry Olympiad circles, Prof. Arvind Kumar, Director of HBCSE, said.

A National Scientific Committee headed by Prof. N. Sathyamurty of IIT Kanpur has designed the novel theoretical and experimental problems of this unique competition. The committee has scientists from different IITs and premier institutions such as the Indian Institute of Sciences, the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, the TIFR, the University Department of Chemical Technology, Mumbai and the University of Pune. A set of pre-contest problems has already been sent to the participating countries. The contest has two parts: theory and practical. The laboratory of the Department of Chemistry of IIT, Mumbai is geared up for the participants' experiments.

Prof. Kumar said the Indian team had bagged two silver and two bronze medals in the previous competition. While the Indians did remarkably well in theory, they lagged behind in the practicals.

This is partly because the Olympiad rules did not allow more than two weeks' training to the participants. But this problem was not faced by the Indian team in the Physics Olympiad which had a crop of medals and was adjudged the third-best, after China and Russia. While the chemical engineer, Prof. M.M. Sharma, former director of UDCT, will inaugurate the 33rd IChO, the Union HRD Minister, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, himself a physicist, will preside over the closing ceremony on July 14.

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