Ms. Antara Puranik’s Full Report on the Fifth ISSCA Event

The secretariat is immensely pleased to publish the full report of the 5th ISSCA (India Sakura Science Club Alumni Association) alumni event written by ISSCA President Ms. Antara Puranik. The event took place on February 17, 2024 in New Delhi. We sincerely thank Ms. Antara for dedicating her time to compile each speaker’s precise talking points.
You can also read the summary report.


Navigating Memories, Bridging Futures

Venue: Regal Hall, The Lalit hotel, New Delhi, India
Date: 17th February 2024
Time: 11:00 to 14:00 (India Time), Saturday.

Event Details:

The event was commenced by the moderators, Ms. Mansi Sharma, and Dr. Pragya Bhatt Gehlot (ISCAA Coordinators).

  • Ms. Mansi Sharma
  • Dr. Pragya Bhatt Gehlot

A warm welcome was given to all honourable guests, invited distinguished speakers and the alumni members by Ms. Antara Puranik (ISCAA President and Main Coordinator). She gave a brief introduction of all invited speakers and guests to the alumni members.

Ms. Antara Puranik

In her speech, she mentioned about the starting of Sakura (the national flower of Japan) season and the beauty it spreads throughout the whole nation. Sakura symbolizes beauty, strength, and eternal change. It also inspires us to be active constantly and to move continuously towards our goal knowing that no time should be wasted. She talked about how Japan is the best country to study and live in. Just like India, Japan is having a perfect balance between advancements of the modern world and the traditions of the past.

She ended her speech by a quote by Mr. Roy Bennet “Never stop dreaming, never stop believing, never give up, never stop trying and never stop learning”.

The second opening speech was given by H.E. Mr. NISHIMURA Yasutoshi, Chairman of the Japan-India Parliamentary Friendship League (JIPFL). It was a video message. He pointed that the tie he was wearing was designed by Mr. Satya Paul, a very famous designer of India and he is very fond of his designs. He congratulated all the members of India Sakura Science Club Alumni Association for conducting the 5th annual meeting.

H.E. Mr. NISHIMURA Yasutoshi

India and Japan established a diplomatic relation in 1952. Till today, a wide range of cooperation have been carried out between two countries in the field of economy and human exchanges. To strengthen these relations between two countries, he wishes that more brilliant young minds should participate in student exchange programs.

He pointed out that, Sakura Science Program (started in 2014) has so far invited about 3,000 students from India to Japan. These students have experienced the technological advancements of Japan and their beautiful culture. Through such activities a mutual understanding has been developed between the people of two countries. He also said that through such activities, there will be more increment in Science and Technology fields.

He concluded his talk by wishing the best to this alumni association and he thinks that this will serve as a bridge between two countries and will strengthen the bonds between the people of these two countries.

Among the invited guest speakers, the first speech was given by Mr. ARIYOSHI Takashi, Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of Japan in India. He firstly congratulated all the team members of ISCAA and JST for their efforts for arranging the 5th alumni meeting. He talked about the Sakura flower. The season of Sakura will soon begin in Japan by the end of March. Sakura blossoms symbolize the beginning of life.

Mr. ARIYOSHI Takashi

He mentioned that the Sakura Science Program provides an opportunity for a short-term visit to Japan and gives the participants to feel the excellence of Japan. He hopes that through SSC, many young talents will encounter this excellent science and technology of Japan as well as rich culture of Japan and by this it will begin a new beginning to Japan-India co-operation on Science and Technology.

He mentioned that last year and this year we witnessed great achievements in India and Japan, last August India’s lunar explorer ‘Chandrayan-3’ made a successful landing on the moon as a fourth country to do this in the world. This year Japan lunar explorer ‘SLIM’ made a successful pin-point landing on the moon, thus making Japan the fifth country to land on the moon.

He talked about Japan and India’s plan to undertake a joint lunar exploration project called ‘LUPEX’. He then explained that to develop the field of science and technology, new researchers must understand the new trends, challenges and working cultures of each other and need to take policy measures that stimulate innovation.

He also talked about a disappointed statistics that currently Indian students studying in Japan is about 1,500. So, this number is very limited compared to other countries. The Japanese government welcomes young students and researchers, and many Japanese universities also provides scholarships and other programs to help Indian students to study and do research in Japan. By the exchanges of talents and ideas between scholar students of both the countries, there will be a huge opportunity for the development of Science and Technology.

He mentioned that Japanese people have abilities of making well designed plans and Indian people have abilities of working and making progress without getting a fear of risks. So, if India and Japan join hands, we can make use of the special abilities of each other and compensate weakness of each other, thus we can create a bright future for each other. In his concluding remarks he said that he hopes that this program will help strengthening the relationship between Japan and India.

The second guest speaker was Ms. Archana Sharma Awasthi, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Education, Govt. of India.

Ms. Archana Sharma Awasthi

She started her speech by talking about Sakura Science Exchange program. She said that the youth are the ones that have a big role in shaping the future and this program aims to provide the youth a great chance to shine. She mentioned one famous quote, ‘Vasudheva Kutumbakam’, means that the people of all nations should work together, take from each other, give to each other to make our world more advanced in Science and Technology.

Japan is the most advanced country in the field of science and technology, so if the talented youth of India benefitted from that then it will be very advantageous for all of us.

She mentioned that the Ministry of India has been sending the top students of our country to Japan through this prestigious Sakura Exchange Program. The children come from diverse backgrounds including the rural backgrounds, backward areas. SSC provides these students their first flight experience also which is amazing for them. This year Ministry of India is planning to give this great opportunity to more girls, from STEM, from Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, and Netaji Subhas Chandra hostels which are in backward areas so as the brilliant minds from these places get an opportunity to get this amazing exposure.

Government of India has been participating in this program since 2016, and from Education Department, so far 532 students have been sent to this program and 83 supervisors have been sent to accompany these students. These students got an opportunity to visit the schools and universities of Japan, National Museum of emerging science and innovation, Mitsubishi Minatomirai Industrial Museum, The Japan agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology, Kazusa DNA research institute and the Embassy of India in Japan also. All these students were very much thrilled to meet the Nobel Laureates and Professors. All of them witnessed the beautiful Japanese culture, traditions, and values of Japan such as their discipline, their punctuality, and their work life. Students have also appreciated meeting other country students during their visit and lifelong friends are developed. During the pandemic 442 students attended this program in online mode.

She mentioned that Ministry and Government of India also welcomes Japanese students to visit India in a similar program.

In conclusion she said that SSC is a unique program and is very appreciated by the participants who come back with a life changing memories and experiences that changes their way of thinking and values in their lives. She said that India and Japan can go to the moon and sun if they work together.

The third guest speech was given by Ms. Namita Gupta, Adviser/Scientist ‘G’ and Head, INSPIRE-MANAK Division, Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Govt. of India. She firstly talked about the spring season in Delhi and the beautiful Tulips and its festival going on in Delhi. She mentioned that she is also a part of the Sakura alumni program because she visited Japan through Sakura Exchange Program as a supervisor. She said that it is a very good exposure to teachers as well as students also as it provides cultural, educational, and social exchange between students and it decreases the borders between countries and its people.

Ms. Namita Gupta

From Inspire-MANAK, till now from 2015 to 2023, 352 students have visited Japan along with 51 supervisors through Sakura Exchange program.

She congratulated Sakura team and its organizers of thinking about this program and for including many other countries. This program helps in building a very good relationship among the youth as well as those who experience this program.

She mentioned a story that Mr. Yuji Nishikawa told her that IITs are very famous in Japan and IIT are a pride of India.

She said that Sakura Exchange Program provides cultural, social, and scientific exchange which is very important for the development of countries and its people. She mentioned one thing that, when they were walking on the side walkers, there were no jay walkers there and it was an example how one should place themselves in a society.

She concluded her speech by thanking Sakura exchange program on behalf of Department of Science and Technology, India, and Inspire-MANAK program for including them in this prestigious program and hopefully more students get this opportunity.

The last guest speech was given by Prof. Ambuj Sagar, Deputy Director, Strategy and Planning and Vipula and Mahesh Chaturvedi Professor of Policy Studies, School of Public Policy, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi. He started his speech by telling everyone that he wishes to visit Japan one day and this wish is on his bucket-list because during his college time there was no such student exchange program through which he also can have such a wonderful exposure.

Prof. Ambuj Sagar

He then talked about that in today’s time it is impossible not to think about international exposure because we live in an inter-connected world, science is global, and the employment opportunities are also global. So, an exchange program like Sakura is excellent because it gets started for people at an early age.

He said that an exchange program like ‘Sakura Exchange Program’ has multiple benefits like it broadens the horizons of students, it helps them in building a professional network and gives them a sense of different opportunities which are present across the world. Sakura science alumni students must have had an opportunity to visit some of the leading laboratories.

He shared that he had opportunity of visiting Japan twice through Japan-India University Forum and seen some of Japan’s outstanding laboratories. He mentioned that his colleague from IIT Delhi’s Computer Science Department and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo had a long interaction through this program and they also had a student exchange program between their universities. This gives a great opportunity for building research collaborations between universities. He concluded his speech by mentioning that a part of the bright future strategy, internalization is the key to it.

After the end of the speech of the fourth guest speaker, a beautiful group photo was taken with all the honourable guests and alumni members.

India Sakura Science Club Alumni Association, Alumni Members

After the group photo, the next session started. In this session, India Sakura Science Club Alumni members gave a presentation and talk about their experience of the visit.

The first talk was given by Mr. Priyam Srivastava, ISCAA Coordinator. (visited Japan in 2018). He was selected for this prestigious program through a course which was held at IIT Kanpur. Through this course at IIT Kanpur, total of six students were selected for SSC program.

Mr. Priyam Srivastava

He then started to share his experiences by mentioning that he visited Wagatsuma Laboratory in Kyushu Institute of Technology, Japan. There he did experiments on “Brain Robotics”. They observed the brain signals and learned about the processing of those signals by collecting them for curing the people who cannot move their hands and legs. He also had visited multiple places in Japan like, Museums, Shrines, Local markets, Yaskawa Electric Cooperative Limited. He also mentioned that the food was very tasty.

He then talked about what things he learned through this program, he got his first international travel experience, he understood the work environment in the labs, and the way one should present themselves and their work. Because of his visit, he got confidence in his life and his work. He said that I got the best opportunity to learn the things that will show me different than the rest. He also got his clarity for his career by experiencing things through this program.

He also revealed about his life after the Japan visit, in 2019, he started a project of making a solar powered vehicle by leading a group of 40 students. He presented this project work at an international event, ESVC-2020. After the Corona pandemic, he joined METI, Govt. of Japan Internship program. Currently, he is pursuing his PhD from IIT, Jammu, India.

The second talk was given by Ms. Disha Malik, ISCAA Coordinator (visited Japan as a high school student).

Ms. Disha Malik

She firstly mentioned that JST gave her wings to fly because it was her first international plane trip. She then talks about her experience of visiting Japan. She visited Japan under the High-school program. There was an event in the Ritsumeikan University, Computer Science dept. She felt her whole experience very wonderful. She got to learn how to merge hardware with software and she made advanced technological equipment. This visit gave her an idea about pursuing her career in Engineering.

She then shared how SSC has changed her career viewpoint. Because of having an international exposure, she dared to visit Germany for her internship. She also visited seven different countries and it all started with her first international trip to Japan through Sakura Exchange program.

The last talk in this session was given by Mr. Rahul Sharma, ISCAA Alumni member (visited Japan in 2023). He talked about his observations and perspectives about his visit to Japan. He observed and felt that people of Japan are very polite. Japanese people value time a lot and even when the country looks modern from outside, it keeps its traditions in its heart.

Mr. Rahul Sharma

He then talked about his experience. The host institute during his visit was SIT Tokyo, Japan. He learned there about the Robotics. During his visit, Nine Vietnam students were also visiting, so he also got a chance to interact with Vietnam as well as Japanese students. In the evenings, he went to explore Japan. He specially visited Akihabara because he is a big fan of Japanese cartoons Manga and Anime. He also visited National Museum of Emerging Science, Miraikan. There at the museum he saw an hourglass which had small capacitors and it fascinated him very much. For the first time he saw the engine of the rocket there at Miraikan. He visited Kawasaki Robotics Company. He also got a chance to visit Asakusa temples. He got an amazing experience of feeling the speed of Bullet Trains.

After Mr. Rahul’s talk the next session of Study in Japan started.

The first speaker in this session was Ms. Sakshi Roy, Assistant Manager, University of Tokyo India Office.

Ms. Sakshi Roy

Ms. Sakshi gave a brief introduction about the University of Tokyo India office and the activities that are organized by them. The main aim of The University of Tokyo India office is to attract international students who aims for doing their higher education and research in Japan. It is one of the overseas offices under the global training program. The office is funded by MEXT, so they organize education fairs and seminars. Their officials visit colleges and high schools to spread awareness about Japanese education. Their focus is to foster a mutual communication and support between the universities and students. After her talk, a few questions were asked by the alumni.

The second invited speaker for the session was Mr. WAKAYAMA Shuhei, Director of India Office, New Delhi, Ritsumeikan University, Japan.

He firstly explained about why one should study in Japan and what courses and opportunities Ritsumeikan University provides to the international students. Japanese Universities also provide many courses in English, the cost of living and tuition fees are very less compared to other countries. Many Japanese companies also welcome international students. Japan has high educational standards; the environment is very safe for girls and women. A perfect mix of traditions and modern culture exists in Japan. Many Nobel prize winners are from Japan and so there is a huge scope for bright students to show their knowledge.

  • Mr. WAKAYAMA Shuhei
  • Mr. WAKAYAMA Shuhei and Ms. Priyanka Bangia

Mr. Wakayama also showed some photos of the Ritsumeikan University campus in all the seasons. Ritsumeikan University has three campuses in Shiga, Kyoto, and Osaka. He told a few things about each of the three campuses.

He then talked about the academics and programs provided by the Ritsumeikan University. He also talked about the student life at their campus. He explained the procedures for admission undergraduate and undergraduate programs. There are scholarships provided to international students for gaining admission to Ritsumeikan University. He also mentioned that the Ritsumeikan University also offers short term programs for the international students called the Study in Kansai Program (SKP) for 2-3 semesters and Summer/Winter programs for 5 weeks.

After Mr. Wakayama’s talk, a few questions were asked by the invited guests and the alumni members.

The next speaker was Prof. D. Sakthi Kumar, Chairman of India JSPS Alumni Association (IJAA) and Graduate School of Interdisciplinary New Science, Toyo University, Japan.

He firstly congratulated the alumni association for their successful contribution towards conducting the fifth alumni meeting. He then talked about how his journey to Japan begin. He is the recipient of the highly prestigious JSPS fellowship in 2015. He gave some information about the JSPS fellowship to the young aspirants. JSPS fellowship is internationally recognized as the most prestigious fellowship in the field of science. They have been organizing various seminars and conferences all around India. In the seminars, top scientists from India and Japan give their talks and it is the best platform for exchange of various scientific ideas amongst the brilliant minds from the two countries. They also provide seminars of Japanese universities regarding the higher study opportunities to the Indian students with the aim of creating a strong bond between them.

Prof. Sakthi Kumar

He then talked and appreciated the efforts of the officials concerned with the Sakura Science Student Exchange program for providing an excellent opportunity to students at a very young age. He concluded his talk by wishing all the students a bright future.

The next and the final session was on ‘Networking’. ISCAA coordinators organized an activity for all the alumni members.

Ms. Antara and Ms. Nandini conducted this activity. The activity was related to:
(a) Sharing their most memorable or funny incident of the visit.
(b) Things they learned from their visit to Japan like learned to build a robot or learned to use an instrument etc.
(c) From their visit, how the program has benefitted them in their career and life, like they learned dinning etiquettes etc.

Alumni speaker 1: Ms. Vrinda Sharma (visited Japan in 2022)

Ms. Vrinda Sharma

Ms. Vrinda shared about one incident during her visit that changed her perspective towards people was that one of her friends had forgotten her wallet at a store in Japan which contained her passport and all her money. They all got very scared after realizing what she would do if it got stolen. On the next day when they went to that store, her wallet was there at the same place, and it was safe with all her important things in it. It made them realize about the nature of the people of Japan.

Alumni speaker 2: Mr. Ashish Verma (visited Japan in 2023)

Mr. Ashish Verma

Mr. Ashish shared that he made the most amazing friends in Japan. He learnt to use a Japanese advanced washing machine and it made him feel so happy.

He shared his most special achievement after his visit is that he got an opportunity to meet Prime Minister of India, Mr. Narendra Modi during ‘Pariksha pe Charcha’ event and, he presented his work in front of Prime Minister which he learnt during his Japan visit.

He talked about the advanced technology which Japanese labs have. He shared his experience of his visit to Riken Science Center where he watched a mouse get invisible in front of his eyes. It was all very fascinating and unbelievable for him. He enjoyed all the late-night walks in Japan.

Alumni speaker 3: Mr. Sudhansu Kumar (visited Japan in 2023)

Mr. Sudhansu Kumar

Mr. Sudhansu firstly mentioned that the friendships he made during his visit are the lifelong ones. Then he talked about one funny incident that he felt during his visit. His group visited Kiyomizu-dera temple. He said that there is one story about the temple that if someone wants to fulfil their wishes, they must jump from a 13-feet high cliff. He found it strange and funny because the wish will get fulfilled if you have a broken limb after the jump.

After coming back to India, with an international exposure, he got an opportunity to be a part of the organizing committee of the three-year anniversary of the National Education Policy. In that event, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi was the chief guest. He also got an opportunity to be in the organizing committee where Education Minister of India was the chief guest. So, by these examples he explained that he got lots of great opportunities after his visit to Japan under Sakura Exchange program.

Alumni speaker 4: Mr. Jatin

Mr. Jatin

Mr. Jatin shared his most memorable experience during his visit and met a wonderful person, Mr. Yuji Nishikawa. He talked about his impression of Yuji Nishikawa Sir. He said that Sir has a very innovative personality and he got inspired from him a lot. He mentioned that for him Sakura Science program is an emotion. He also mentioned about his first-time fascinating meeting with Nobel Laureate and talking with him.

Alumni speaker 5: Mr. Ashok (visited Japan in 2019 and 2023)

Mr. Ashok

Mr. Ashok mentioned that there are thousands of students who are learning Japanese language from a town in Tamil Nadu. He went to Japan as a supervisor two times in 2019 accompanying high school students and in 2023 accompanying college students. He then shared the fascinating outcome from this visit that couple of his students joined the Japanese universities for their graduation degrees. In 2023, three of his students got jobs in Japan because of the visit. During their visit through Sakura Exchange program, they had visited Nippon Steel Industry and they got very fascinated by it, and it was the reason they got a job in Japan.

Alumni speaker 6: Mr. Rohit

Mr. Rohit

Firstly, Mr. Rohit shared the funniest incident that happened during his visit to Japan. He talked about the Japanese advanced washroom designs. He said that there were so many buttons attached with the washroom that made him so confused and it was the thing all the Indian students can relate with. He shared his fascinating experience of the visit to the hydrodynamic channel in the University of Osaka. He found the place very interesting. The Professors at Osaka University explained many concepts to them in a very easy and realizable way. He talked about the places he visited during his visit. He visited Sanoyas Shipyard. It was a very memorable part of his visit because he saw many parts of the ships for the first time in his life and he felt very amazing seeing them. He talked about the best teachers who guided him during his visit and the amazing friends he made there. He said that the visit to Japan opened many doors for him in his life.

Alumni speaker 7: Ms. Vaishnavi (visited Japan in 2018)

Ms. Vaishnavi mentioned that her visit to Japan inspired her to pursue STEM. The most memorable thing from her visit was building good friendship with Japanese students and meeting all the great people from DST, India and JST, Japan. She was fascinated by seeing ASIMO, the robot from Miraikan Museum. She also visited Panasonic Olympic Center.

Ms. Vaishnavi

Alumni speaker 8: Mr. Ankit Chawla (visited Japan in 2019)

Mr. Ankit Chawla

Mr. Ankit shared the most inspiring thing he felt during his visit and how it changed his life. During his visit to Japan, he visited Miraikan museum and there he saw many humanoid robots and he got so fascinated and inspired from seeing the robots that after coming back to India he created his own humanoid robot named MIRA (Medical Interactive Robotic Assistant). He made it specially to help elderly people. For building this amazing robot he has been awarded many national awards.

Alumni speaker 9: Ms. Yuki Tomar (visited Japan in 2023)

Ms. Yuki mentioned firstly that she was born in Japan, so her family named her Yuki meaning Snow in Japanese language. She mentioned that she also visited Japan again in 2007 from Delhi University as a student. She went to Japan in 2023 under the Sakura Exchange program with her students from Delhi University. She had an amazing opportunity to have a collaborative work with one of the Japanese Professor got published in a very reputed journal. This type of association is very beneficial for both the country scientists.

Ms. Yuki Tomar

Alumni speaker 10: Mr. Kailash Pandey

  • Mr. Kailash Pandey
  • Mr. Deepak

Mr. Kailash mentions that he is from the Blind Relief Association, Delhi. He shared that the teachers from his association have been teaching Japanese language to the visually challenged students since 2005. The students who study Japanese also appear for the JLPT exam (Japanese Language Proficiency Test). He also mentioned that one of his students went to Japan to pursue his PhD degree. He also mentioned one important story that, Professor Hata from Ritsumeikan University translated the Hindi song ‘Sare Jaha Se Accha’ in Japanese. He also introduced us to his brilliant student, Mr. Deepak. Mr. Deepak shared that all the visually challenged students are learning Japanese language in Braille script.

After the sharing of beautiful and memorable stories of their visit, all the guests and alumni members had lunch together. Before lunch, Mr. Ito gave a small speech and toast as a part of the ceremony. Everyone exchanged their ideas and had a wonderful interactive lunch together.

  • Mr. ITO
Speech and Toast

After the lunch, the vote of thanks was presented by ISCAA Coordinator, Ms. Disha Malik.

Some more photos of the Alumni meet:

Networking between Alumni and dignitaries.

ISCAA Coordinators

(From left to right) Mr. Priyam, Dr. Pragya, Ms. Disha, Ms. Antara, Ms. Mansi, Ms. Nandini

Some sweet memories