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Decadal vision document, Astronomy & Astrophysics - Indian Academy of Sciences & Astronomical Society of India

Decadal reports are used as a sort of a road map, a review of the current trends in the field, of what the field is moving towards in the next decade and recommendations put forth which can be used by the governing bodies to dispatch funds appropriately. I have come across decadal reports by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and by the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA) but only now have I come across one by the Astronomical Society of India (ASI)

I skipped right to the recommendations part and I had my mind blown. Let me give you a brief summary of the recommendations put forth by the committee.

1. Bringing together the community to consolidate work and form Autonomous Working Groups spanning the astronomical research being carried out. The groups can bring together astronomers working on theory, observations and simulations to give a holistic picture. Working groups also help foster younger talent and help in the community development.

2. We have the GMRT in radio and we recently launched the ASTROSAT in the X-ray. The astronomical community can work towards a multiwavelength approach.

3. In order to pursue the multiwavelength approach, there need to be better telescopes in the optical spectrum and the current telescopes need to be refurbished with better equipment. To quote 

""" Another point that comes through clearly in the Panel reports is that most of our observational facilities are not functioning optimally, and are therefore underutilized. The committee concurs with this and would like to make some specific recommendations. """

The committee recommends setting up new optical telescopes at Devasthal, a solar telescope in Udaipur, upgrading the GMRT bandwidth, using the telescope at Nainital to pursue a polarimetric survey and setting up national time allocation committees.

4. The committee also recommends for specialized centers to be setup for the purpose of carrying out simulations, for eg. simulation of detector behavior, simulations of astronomical objects. The committee also recommends for a specialized center where new detectors can be developed, better X-ray mirrors can be developed.

5. The committee also acknowledges that India has to participate in international projects, for eg. the SKA and the TMT, as the Indian community will be left behind if we are not part of the projects. Obtaining telescope time might be harder in the future given the nature of collaborations and the amount of money involved and it's better that the Indian community be involved from the beginning of the projects.

I'm going to stop now and I urge you to go through atleast the chapter on Recommendations. If you are an undergrad and if you are seriously interested in pursuing a higher degree in astronomy, it's motivating to know that there are a lot of exciting and state-of-the-art work being carried out in the country. It's a sad thing that it's not communicated effectively and most don't know the current work being pursued but still, it is motivating to know that there is a lot of exciting work being pursued here at home.

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