"Alles ist Wechselwirkung

                                                                                     Alexander von Humboldt

Humboldt Academy - Pune Chapter holds a Humboldt

Kolleg In Goa on 19 - 21 November 2015 on

 Sustainable Development: Mega Trends of the 21st Century

Humboldt Academy - Pune Chapter organized a Humboldt Kolleg at Bogmallo Beach Resort, Goa between November 19 and 21, 2015 on the theme ‘Sustainable Development: Mega Trends of the 21st Century’.  There was an overwhelming response to the Kolleg from the western India region. Mainly former Humboldians from Pune and Mumbai Chapters, German Professors and Scientists, other distinguished academicians and young researchers representing different disciplines of science participated in the Kolleg.  

 First day of the meeting commenced in the afternoon of 19th November 2015. Some of the German and Indian participants arrived on 19th morning and others arrived the same day. After the registration between 12 noon and 2.30 pm, Dr. M. V. Badiger, convenor of the Kolleg invited Profs. B.S. Madhava Rao, Srikumar Banerjee, and Dr. A. P. Kulkarni to the dais for a crisp inaugural function. Dr. Badiger also welcomed all the participants and briefly mentioned about the genesis and purpose of the Kolleg. Humboldt Kolleg began with the inauguration and welcome address by Prof. Madhava Rao, President of the Humboldt Academy, Pune Chapter. This was followed by a keynote lecture by Prof. Banerjee, Former Director, Bhabha Atomic Research Center, Mumbai, and Chairman Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary to the Government of India. Dr. Badiger introduced the keynote speaker and chaired the session. Prof. Banerjee dwelt on the Kolleg theme and addressed the need to overcome the dependence on carbon-based fuels and the importance of non-carbon based sources, such as solar energy, wind power, atomic energy for sustainability. He also underscored the importance of atomic energy for the energy hungry world, and the vast difference in the energy production status of UK and France due to their following of hydrocarbons and atomic energy, respectively, from late eighties. He also voiced his concerns to a question by Dr. Judith Schildt on the safe atomic energy reactor/technology available with Germany, but not utilized. Many such aspects were touched upon by him. The inaugural session concluded with vote of thanks by Dr. A. P. Kulkarni who thanked all the participants, invited speakers, the AvH Foundation for full financial support and the Bogmallo beach resort management for their excellent arrangements for the Kolleg.

Session I on the sub-theme ‘The Role of Education’ commenced immediately, after the coffee-break at 4.00 pm, and the session was chaired by Prof. B.S.M. Rao. In this session, there were four invited talks and a special presentation made by Dr. Judith Schildt, AvH representative. The first speaker, Dr. Swati Acharya, S. P. Pune University, Pune presented her work on the subject ‘Culture studies and sustainability’ and tried to connect them. Although they are different concepts, how they changed or enlarged our perspective on human life and the domains that are essential for its further development. This was followed by Prof. Ernest W. B. Hess-Luettich’s (Univ. Berne, Switzerland and Hon. Prof. Technical Univ. Berlin) talk on Urban discourse: City space/language/planning eco-semiotic approaches to planning urban sustainability. He insisted on understanding the sustainable urban planning as a communicative process and it’s interlinking to architecture, technology, management etc.  Third talk was delivered by Prof. A. S. Khanna, IIT, Mumbai on the relevance of higher education and its benefits to India. He underscored his personal concerns on the downside of the present education system. Prof. Andreas Eckart, Univ. Köln, dwelt on the sustainable development of the human perspective via improving our understanding of the cosmos. This was followed by Dr. Judith Schildt, AvH, Bonn on the AvH’s sponsorship portfolio. She underscored the worldwide network of AvH fellows through many academies, clubs, societies etc. What is new at AvH, especially for India, was highlighted. She especially addressed the students on the AvH fellowship programs. There were many questions for all the talks and significant discussion was held between the speakers and the audience. Indeed, discussions were continued even after the seminars also. Session- I came to an end around 6.40 pm.

Day one was concluded in the evening with the Kolleg’s dinner and lot of dancing/fun by the participants and their family members at Bogamallo Beach Resort, Goa.

Day two, 20th November, 2015 of the Kolleg commenced with Session II on the Renewable Energy.  There were three invited talks in this session and it was chaired by Dr. A. D. Karve. The first talk on the subject ‘Energy sources for sustainable development’ was delivered by Prof. Om Pal Singh, Navi Mumbai.  He brought the issue of different sources of energy, especially in terms of sustainability for development, particularly for India. The second talk on the topic ‘Catalytic methods for sustainable organic synthesis’ was delivered by Prof. Lukas Hintermann, Tech. Univ. Munich. His talk focused on the development of catalytic organic processes with atom-economy and redox economy. How sustainability can be translated into interesting research problems with several examples from his work. Third lecture was given by Dr. A. T. Biju, on ‘Enantioselective construction of carbocycles and heterocycles using N-heterocyclic carbeneorgano catalysis’. At the beginning he narrated his uncomfortable experience in sauna in Germany in a hilarious way. Dr. Biju dealt the N-heterocyclic carbine catalyzed umpolung of aldehydes and related aspects extensively. This was followed by twelve flash talks by students (who are expected to be potential AvH applicants). Each flash talk was given 90 seconds time with just one slide to share with audience. In the flash talks, all the students spoke about objective of their work and how they achieved this objective. Subsequently, the details of their work was presented in the posters. This flash talk arrangement was remarkably organized by Drs. Srivatsan and Sayam Sengupta and all students finished within their time limit.

After a short tea break, there were two invited scientific presentations as well as twelve more flash talks by students in Session IIIA on Green Science, Conservation Biology. How minerals can replace chemical fertilizers were beautifully explained by Dr. Karve. By feeding simple sugar to soil multiplied the soil microorganisms by 500 times. Organo minerals were released into the soil by the microorganisms, and help to increase the fertility of the soil. He explained the tradition followed by the farmers in Maharashtra/Karnataka in a scientific manner by performing simple experiments. Second lecture was given by Dr. John Eckelt, Wee-Solve GmbH, Mainz. He shared his experience of a large scale polymer fractionation technique. This was followed by another twelve flash talks by students. Poster session was started after the session and it continued during the lunch time. The session was chaired by Prof. Schwab. Three judges went through all posters and had detailed discussion with all the poster presenters and they also selected three posters for best poster award.

Last session of day two (session IIIB) was chaired by Dr. N.N. Joshi. The first talk of the session on the topic ‘Forthcoming opportunities from polymer therapeutics: externally triggered theronostics’ was delivered by Prof. Marcelo Calderon, Freie Univ. Berlin. Emergence of dendritic polyglycerols for diverse biomedical applications was demonstrated. How to link dendritic polyglycerols to drugs, fluorescent dyes, cell targeting ligands etc. was explained through synthetic strategy. This was followed by Prof. Valentin Wittmann, Univ. Konstanz on Chemical biology of cellular carbohydrates. Some of the challenges in glycobiology and authors contributions in this area were discussed. Last lecture of the day two was given by Prof. Wilfried Schwab, Munich on Fruit flavor: Molecular basis of biosynthesis and metabolism. Fruit flavor is due to combinations of soluble and volatile organic molecules. How these molecules are involved in metabolic pathways has been established recently. Recent advances in the biosynthesis of such volatile molecules, and how genes control the biosynthesis was explained. After every presentation, each speaker had time for active discussion with the audience in the form of questions and answers.

After the talks were over, a trip to local historical places in Goa was arranged. Many of the participants went for the above trip. Day concluded in the evening with the Kolleg’s dinner at Bogamallo Beach Resort, Goa

Last technical session on day three, 21st November 2015(Saturday) began at 9.30 am with the Session IV.  This session was chaired by Prof. Ernest Hess-Luettich, Berlin. There were three invited talks in this session. The first talk on the topic ’50 years of Moore’s law: Looking back, looking forward’ was delivered by Prof. Arnab Bhattacharya, TIFR, Mumbai. The phenomenal growth of electronic industry in delivering the products that we use every day, such as smart phones etc. was dealt with. How very few industries dominate the world and marginalize the small players in this area of technology due to enormous volume of production in short time was explained. Of course, without Moore’s law it would not be possible to have all modern gadgets. How various related fields, such as nanomaterials, device physics, helped to spur the growth of modern electronics was interlinked. Second speaker, Dr. Deepankar Choudhury elaborated on Sustainable foundation solutions for super-high rise building to mitigate earthquakes. He underscored that earthquake never kills, but the non-engineered building/structures built on poor quality soils mostly causes extensive damages. Last technical talk was delivered by Dr. A. P. Kulkarni, on new challenges for global, sustainable agriculture. How the agriculture, volatile market and political leadership affect the essential food industry was presented in an elegant manner. There was a coffee break which was followed by a brief talk on DAAD activities and opportunities by Dr. Christoph Senft, Director DAAD, Pune.

The last Session V of the Kolleg comprised of Panel discussion and information on opportunities for young researchers.   Prof. B. S. Madhav Rao moderated and conducted the session with Profs. Hintermann, Wittmann,  Banerjee and Dr. Judith Schildt as members.  Prof. Rao paraphrased the entire Kolleg and touched upon all the talks delivered by the experts from India and Germany. All the panel members expressed their views on enhancing the scientific cooperation between institutions of Germany and India and possibilities of visits of German researchers to the institutions of Humboltdians. Dr. Schildt shared information on available opportunities for young researchers in German academic and research institutions. At the end feedback from the participants was directly expressed by themselves. It was unanimously felt by all participants of the Kollege that the Kolleg-2015 at Goa fulfilled its aim and was a great success.

The Kolleg concluded with vote of thanks proposed by Dr. Badiger, Secretary of Humboldt Academy Pune Chapter and the Convener of Humboldt Kolleg-2015. Finally, he thanked the management and staff of the Bogmallo Beach Resort for their excellent hospitality.


Humboldt Academy - Pune Chapter   is an association of former and present Fellows of  the Alexander von Humboldt (AvH) Foundation, residing in and around Pune (India).  It aims to spread the information of AvH Foundation and its various programs, assist the students aspiring to be AvH Fellows, enable exchange of research and academic contributions of its members; and stay connected with other AvH Clubs.