NCSM head, who has roots in Shillong, credits team for Pendulum installation

Shillong, June 1: The National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), Kolkata, has earned accolades for its contribution to putting up Foucault’s Pendulum inside the new Parliament building that was inaugurated on May 28 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Director General of the premier institute, Arijit Dutta Choudhury, is widely spoken about for his contributions. However, Dutta Choudhury, who has his roots in Shillong, humbly refuses to take the credit and lauds his team for the feat.


Speaking to Meghalaya Monitor on the phone from Kolkata, the NCSM director general, who is an alumnus of St Edmund’s College, said, “I just did my duty. It is my entire team that is to be appreciated for putting up the pendulum.”

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Dutta Choudhury informed that this is not the first time that NCSM has put up Foucault’s Pendulum. In fact, the first installation was in 1993 at Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pune. The institute, which is located in Sector V of Kolkata’s Bidhannagar area, went on to install the pendulum in numerous places across the country, including at IIT Delhi, in Ranchi, Dehradun, Kolkata, Tirupati and Ahmedabad, and around the world, like the ones in Brisbane and Turkey.

Foucault’s Pendulum, named after French physicist Leon Foucault, was first demonstrated in 1851 at Paris Observatory to prove the Earth’s rotation. The physicist later explained the results in his paper, Physical Demonstration of the Earth’s Rotational Movement.

Dutta Choudhury said every installation is unique. The one that has been installed in Parliament is the tallest with a 20-m height from the floor. The bob of the pendulum is 25 cm and weighs around 36 kg. It is made of brass with gold plating.

“It is very different from what has been done so far. Also, it has been installed with the intention that the Foucault’s Pendulum installation will be seen by a large number of people, especially our representatives from across the country as well as representatives from other countries when they visit. It is our country’s prestige and pride. The entire credit goes to our team and I ensured that it was done properly,” he said and humbly rejected any claims of glory to him.

When asked whether the pendulum will be a symbol of truth, like the 19th-century physicist tried to establish, Dutta Choudhury said, “Ours is the only Constitution in the world that talks about scientific temper. The decision of the government to install this inside Parliament is an apt decision and we are thankful to it for the opportunity to execute the work.”

But is the scientific temper in the country being tampered with by the current political system? Dutta Choudhury disagrees.

“The government continues to encourage innovation and there are a lot of innovations too in the country. There is a lot of technological development too. NCSM itself has set up more than 46 innovation hubs across the country, including one on the NEHU campus in Shillong. We are encouraging the youth to think out of the box and that is important. For instance, for Foucault’s Pendulum, we did not succeed at one go and we kept on trying and innovating. Innovation and the encouragement for that are necessary for the country to develop,” he asserted.

Dutta Choudhury was born and brought up in Shillong and spent 18 years of his life here. He left the hill town in 1981 for higher studies. He has worked with Hindustan Motors and has been associated with NCSM since 1987.

To a question on the communal strife here, Dutta Choudhury said though there were incidents of violence but those never affected his friendship with the locals. “I never faced such differences and in fact, I still have friends there and we have a WhatsApp group of old friends. We are constantly in touch with each other.”

“I try to visit Shillong at least once a year. The visits were frequent when my parents were alive. We still have our house there (at Kench’s Trace) and my brother, whom I grew up with, still lives in Shillong,” he added.

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