Monday, February 3, 2014

At Jammu new science initiatives announced by PM Manmohan Singh as he prepares to hand over `baton’

At Jammu new science initiatives announced by PM Manmohan Singh as he prepares to hand over `baton’

New Delhi, February 3, 2014

Pallava Bagla

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh speaking at 101st session of the Indian Science Congress being held for the very first time in Jammu a part of the troubled state of Jammu and Kashmir, where some 8000 scientists have gathered for this annual event.

The Prime Minister highlighted some aspects in his speech: 

“To do science, someone must pay for it. We must increase our annual expenditure on science and technology to at least 2% of our GDP. This has to come from both government and industry. In countries such as South Korea, where a high percentage of the GDP goes to science, the contribution of Korean industry is indeed very significant. I am happy to say that our Department of Biotechnology has activated private public partnerships in R&D in biotechnology. I appeal to the corporate sector to join hands with the government in realizing the goals that we have set for more our nation.
A major research funding organization, the National Science and Engineering Research Board, has just started functioning. This Board is managed by scientists and it has simplified funding procedures. We expect much more from it in supporting individual scientists as well as groups of scientists in creating small units devoted to crucial sectors at the very frontiers of science.
India currently occupies an enviable position in the field of atomic energy and high-energy physics. Indian nuclear scientists are attracting global interest in their effort to develop a Fast Breeder Reactor. I expect the prototype under construction in Kalpakkam to be completed this year. It will be a great day for Indian science and technology because we will be one of the few countries in the world with leadership in a completely new area of nuclear technology that can contribute non-polluting electrical power.
I recognise and we all recognise that the Government must also focus on creating new opportunities for our bright and socially conscious scientists. To ensure food security and to improve land and water productivity, we have to launch a national drive for an ever-green revolution. This will test the ingenuity of our agricultural scientists. Climate-resilient agriculture and modern bio-technological tools hold great promise. Use of bio-technology has great potential to improve yields. While safety must be ensured, we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt. crops. Our government remains committed to promoting the use of these new technologies for agricultural development. I urge our scientific community to increase communication and engagement with society at large in explaining socially productive applications of technology alternatives and for improving the productivity of small and medium enterprises.
Our Government has invested in many areas to ensure that India remains at the cutting edge of science. I am happy to announce another National Mission on High Performance Computing with an outlay of Rs. 4500 crores. We are also considering establishment of a National Geographical Information System with an outlay of about Rs. 3000 crores. A National Mission on Teaching to enhance the esteem of our teachers is also being launched.
I am also happy to announce that India will partner the international scientific community in the establishment of some of the world’s major R&D projects. In the Gravitational Wave experiment, India intends to host the third detector. A Neutrino-based Observatory is proposed to be established in Tamil Nadu at a cost of about Rs 1450 crores. India is also joining the famous CERN institute as an associate member.

Before I close, I would like to stress on something that has troubled me for some time. I worry some time that science has not yet got its proper due in our value system. I would like science to be high in our value system so that our entire society provides both moral and material support for its development. This is not only necessary because our future depends on it, but also because instilling a scientific attitude and temper in our population is essential for developing a progressive, rational and humane society. I do hope that our scientists and educators will ponder seriously on how we can achieve this transformation in the mind set of our society.  This year, our Government selected Professor CNR Rao for the highest civilian award of Bharat Ratna. Let this be only the first step in creating an environment that gives birth to many more Bharat Ratnas in the field of Indian science. That is my wish that is my prayer.”  

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