The Indian Chapter of the Regional Science Association started in September 1967 by Professor Chittaranjan Pathak at the Department of Architecture and Regional Planning, IIT Kharagpur, West Bengal, India at IIT Kharagpur. The Association has been constituted first as a section of Regional Science Association, (International) at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA.
Dr. V.N. Prasad, the then President of the Governing Council of Regional Science Association, India in 1967 and Director of Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur in his forward published in the first volume of Indian Journal of Regional Science in 1968 has written, ‘The national five-year plan initiated by the Government of India in 1951 aim at providing sound foundations for sustained economic growth, increasing opportunities for gainful employment, and improving living standards and working conditions for the masses. The national plans attempt to reduce the existing disparities in levels of development in different region spreading the benefits of industrialization all over the country, and indicate that this can be achieved through balanced and co-ordinated development of the industrial and agricultural economy of each region and through planes urbanisation and development of economic and social services.
The implementation of these plans, however, has not kept the pace accordingly. The States’ five-year plans, which are essentially regional in their jurisdiction, have also followed the pattern of the national plans and principally devoted to allocating existing and projected financial resources to the aggregate development programmes without reflecting any comprehensive spatial and zonal distribution of activities, projects and programmes basic to a regional plan.
There exists a big gap between the regional planning and its translation into reality. Most of the regional planning in India lacks proper analysis of the existing situation and also of the historical perspective. The methods and techniques adopted in regional planning have largely been a superimposed phenomenon in almost an entirely different situation and consequently planning has not brought about results upto the expectation. Lack of adequate and proper analysis of the different regional aspects was evident. And this analysis could be done efficiently only by applying Regional Science techniques and methods. Advancement of Regional science is therefore an essential pre-requisite and its importance in regional planning cannot be over-estimated.
The first Regional Science Conference was organised by Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur on 8-9 September 1967 with national and international delegates. The main topic of the conference was, ‘the application of regional science methods and techniques in attacking Indian planning problems’. The conference was inaugurated by Professor Walter Isard, Chairman of the Regional Science Association (International), Professor Eiji Kometani, Vice-President of the Japan Section of the Regional Science Association. Professor M.S. Thacker, the then member of the Planning Commission, Government of India also preside the conference.
This conference was a great success and led to the formation of Regional Science Association, India with the Director of the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, Dr. V.N. Prasad as its first President; and Professor S.N. Sen, the then head of the Department of Economics, who later became the Vice-Chancellor, University of Calcutta; Dr. V.L. S. Prakasa Rao, the then head of the Department of Human Geography, University of Delhi, & Professor L.R. Vagale, the then head of the Department of Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi, as its Vice-Presidents. Dr. A.N. Bose, the then Industrial Economist of Calcutta Metropolitan Planning Organisation, Calcutta along with Dr. Chittaranjan Pathak were the secretaries.
Over the years, the Association has grown from strength to strength, but is still a relatively compact organisation, having 340 Life Members and about 135 Annual Members. It started publication of the bi-annual Indian Journal of Regional Science in 1968-69, aimed at publishing good quality research papers selected through a peer review process. It reaches out to 170 University Libraries. The Association holds its annual conferences on a regular basis. Premier Institutes, Universities and learning centres across the country have hosted the Regional Science Conference over the years.
The Association launched Indian Journal of Regional Science in 1968-69 after the successful first conference at IIT Kharagpur. The first volume was contained some of the papers presented in the First Seminar of the Regional Science Association, India. The journal was launched as the association’s academic vehicle to facilitate publishing quality research papers of the members of the Association. The journal is published in two issues per volume in single year – June & December. The Association encourages its members to conduct research with high standards.
The Association had successfully organised the Silver Jubilee Conference at IIT Kharagpur in 1992 to celebrate and published the papers presented at the conference in two issues.
So far the Association had successfully organised 48 Annual Conferences in various Universities / Institutions. The 49th Conference was merged with the World Congress organised at BITS Pilani K.K. Birla Goa campus on the 29 May-1 June, 2018. The Golden Jubilee conference was held at Institute for Excellence in Higher Education, Bhopal, India on 20-22 February 2019.
Though Regional Science Association India is an offshoot of Regional Science Association International, we have been working independently from its inception, but we are now thinking of creating wider audience and develop programs through the year.