The Indian National Science Academy (INSA), formerly known as National Institute of Sciences of India (NISI), was established on January7, 1935. This is the apex body of Indian scientists representing all branches of science. Its objectives cover promotion of science in India and harnessing scientific knowledge for the cause of humanity and national welfare, safeguarding interest of Indian scientists, establishing formal linkages with international bodies, promoting international collaboration and giving opinion on national issues after debate and discussions.
Some of the landmarks in its seventy year old history are: (i) foundation as National Institute of Sciences of India on January 7, 1935 at Calcutta; located in the premises of Asiatic Society of Bengal; (ii) recognition as the premier scientific society of India representing all branches of science by the then Government of India, in October 1945; (iii) shifting headquarters to Delhi University, Delhi in May 1946; (iv) shifting to its own building at Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg, New Delhi; foundation of the building laid by Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru in April 1948; occupation in 1951; (v) designated as the adhering organization in India to the International Council for Science (ICSU) on behalf of Government of India in January 1968; (vi) assumed the present name, Indian National Science Academy, in February 1970.
The Academy consists of Foundation Fellows, Fellows and Foreign Fellows. Foundation Fellows (125 in number) were those who accepted the nomination as Fellows before the inauguration of the Academy. The Academy recognizes outstanding contributions of Indian scientists by electing them as its Fellows. In addition, eminent scientists from different parts of the world are elected as Foreign Fellows. At present, there are 754 Fellows and 90 Foreign Fellows. The administration, direction and management of the affairs of the Academy is entrusted to a Council composed of a seven member Board of Officers and twenty other members and four additional members representing three Co-operating Academies and the Government of India. The Board of Officers is comprised of a President and six Vice-Presidents.
In addition, INSA Fellows Scientists serve in various Cooperating Academies, Societies and Government organizations and agencies. Very close relationship is maintained by the Academy with other sister and professional Academies and Government Organizations. The Academy’s Program on Science Education is one of the examples taken up jointly by Sciences Academies in India. The Academy independently or jointly provides considered opinion on several matters having impact on Science and Technology in the country. Recently, the recommendations made in the Academy’s reports ‘India Science Report’, ‘Science Career for Women in India’ and ‘Science Education’ has formed a part of the 11th Five Year Plan document on Science and Education.
The Academy confers awards in four categories: i. e. International Awards; General Medal and Lecture Awards; Subject-wise Medals/Lectures and Awards for Young Scientists. The number of awards instituted by the Academy so far are 59 including endowment medals and lectureships. Most prestigious among the Academy’s awards are international awards namely: Jawaharlal Nehru Birth Centenary Medal and INSA-Vainu Bappu Memorial Medal and four General Medals named after Aryabhata, Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, Meghnad Saha and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar.
In 1974, the Academy instituted the scheme of Science Academy Medals for Young Scientists with the aim of distinguishing young scientists of extraordinary promise and creativity who have made notable research contributions in Science and Technology. The INSA Young Scientists Award, considered to be the highest recognition of promise, creativity and excellence in a young scientist, is made annually to those distinguished for these attributes as evidenced by their research work carried out in India through notable research contribution in Science, Engineering & Technology.. About 15-20 young men and women (up to 32 years of age) are selected every year for the award of INSA Young Scientist Medal. Till 2006, 478 young scientists have been thus recognized. Many of them have established a rewarding scientific career and continue to make outstanding contributions winning further honor both in this country and abroad.
The publications of the Academy are many and include: Proceedings of the Indian National Science Academy, the Indian Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics and Indian Journal of History of Science. In addition to the Year Book of the Academy published since 1960, Scientific reports/ Monographs/ Proceedings of Seminars, and Biographical Memoirs of the Fellows of the Academy are also published.
The Academy discharges its responsibilities as the adhering organization in India to the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the International Unions affiliated to ICSU, through a National Committee to enable positive implementation of scientific programs activities geared to national and international research, development and human welfare. The National Committee advise the Academy on participation in international forums, inviting General Assemblies in India, nominating Indian scientists to ICSU bodies and publishing Status Report on Indian Science in areas of their concern. Academy also provides support for participation of Indian scientists in conferences held abroad. The Inter-Academy Exchange Program of the Academy aims at establishing collaborative scientific research, exchange of ideas and information with difference countries of the world through arranging visits of scientists. At present the Academy has Exchange Programs with 32 countries. In 1984, the Academy was instrumental in forming the Federation of Asian Scientific Academies and Societies (FASAS) through which visit of scientists from neighboring countries are made possible. The Academy of Sciences of the Developing World (TWAS) is a body which promotes South-South and South-North Cooperation in the application of science & technology in the developing world. The Academy has close linkages with TWAS and Third World Network of Scientific Organizations (TWNSO) and the International Foundation for Science (IFS). The Academy played a key role in the constitution of the Global Network of Academies of Sciences (IAP) in 1993.