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  • PM asks young scientists to think out of the box

    Published on January 3, 2011

    Asking scientists to think out of the box for advancements in the country, PM Manmohan Singh has announced 2012-13 as the ‘Year of Science’ to unleash the energies of young scientists and attract more people towards research streams.

    Singh also asked scientists to devise mechanisms to forge alliances with scientists of Indian-origin serving abroad and who look forward to return to their homeland to pursue their interests.

    “Science is ageless, but our scientists must be younger,” he said inaugurating the 98th Indian Science Congress at the SRM University campus in Chennai on Monday.

    Singh announced that the year 2012-13, the centenary of the Indian Science Congress, would be designated at the ‘Year of Science in India’.

    The Prime Minister called for concerted efforts to build and motivate a new generation of scientific talent and noted that over 3.5 lakh students in the age group of 10-27 have been awarded scholarships to pursue studies in science.

    “I sincerely hope the Year of Science in India will unleash the energies of our young scientists and inspire a new generation of Indians to enter the world of science, cross new horizons and explore new possibilities,” he said.

    He urged Indian scientists to “think big” and “out of the box” for scientific advancement and innovations in the country.

    “The time has come for Indian scientists to think big, think out of the box.The time has come to produce Ramans and Ramanujans as we usher in the decade of innovation,” he said.

    Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal pointed out that last year nearly one third of research papers emanating from the country were from the university system.

    “This is commendable because India’s growth rate in scientific publications averages around 12 per cent per annum, during the last three years, as compared to the global growth rate of about four per cent. Thus, our initiatives for rejuvenation of research in universities seem to be bearing positive results,” he said.

    Recalling his visits abroad, the Prime Minister said he had come across young scientists from India who expresses their desire to return.

    “Whenever I travel abroad I meet bright young people from India doing good science who tell me they look forward to the day they can continue their work back home in India,” he said.

    “How do we draw on this talent pool? How do we make our universities more open to such talent, including for those who seek temporary affiliation? I hope you will deliberate on these issues,” Singh said.

    The Prime Minister stressed on the need to better higher education in the country and claimed that the government was already moving forward in this direction.

    “Our government has paid special attention to the growth of our university system. In the past six years, our government has established eight new Indian Institutes of Technology and five institutes” of higher education and research, he said.

    “The growth of our economy, defence of our people and security of our people depends of scientific and technological competence,” he said.

    Noting that science has made strides even in societies that were neither modern nor liberal, the Prime Minister cautioned scientists on “illiberal” uses of technology.

    “I sincerely believe we must guard against such tendencies, especially in our own blessed country,” he said.

    Singh noted that big discoveries have influenced society through new technological options which have offered generally benefits to humankind but sometimes have been used for more harmful purposes.

    He cited the use of nuclear weapons, applications of synthetic chemistry in agriculture and in poison gases and “perverse use” of genetics in Nazi Germany as cases in the point.

    With science set to acquire the capability of manipulating the human genome, the Prime Minister made a strong pitch for developing an ethical framework that defines the red lines for the use of this technology.

    Singh also voiced concern over Indian scientific discoveries not making it big in the market place.

    He noted that though C V Raman won the Nobel Prize for his discovery on the scattering of light, most products available in the country using the principle were being imported.

    The Prime Minister also asked the scientists to deliberate and find solutions to strengthen university-industry linkages to enable conversion of outstanding scientific discoveries into marketable products.

    “Why is the translation of good science and research into products so weak in our country? How do we strengthen the link between universities, research laboratories and industry,” he asked.

    “I would like the Science Congress to discuss these issues and come out with actionable recommendations.I believe that the scientific community should give due recognition to scientists who build advanced instruments,” he said.

    Singh also wanted the universities to be more hospitable to creativity and genius, and less captive to bureaucracy and procedure.

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