The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has called for efforts to ensure that science, technology and innovation reach the poorest, the remotest and the most vulnerable person. He said that for a prosperous future for India, we need to put science, technology and innovation at the top of national priorities. In his address to the 102nd Indian Science Congress in Mumbai today, the Prime Minister said more resilient agriculture, appropriate and affordable technologies for rural areas, improving healthcare, making clean technology affordable, and making India a leading manufacturing nation and a hub for knowledge and technology-intensive industries, were some of the key objectives before Indian scientists.
The Prime Minister said a nation’s progress and its human development are linked to science and technology. He added that China’s emergence as the second biggest global economy is in parallel to its rise to the second place in science and technology activities.
The Prime Minister said, that a discussion on science and human development, cannot be divorced from the questions of political decisions; social choices; and of equity, ethics and access. He said human development has been the larger purpose and the driving force of India’s scientific pursuits, and science has helped shape modern India.
The Prime Minister appreciated Indian scientists for rising to the occasion “whenever the world shut its door on us.” He said that when the world sought our collaboration, they reached out with the openness that is inherent in our society. He also lauded Indian scientists for putting Mangalyaan in the Mars orbit in the first attempt, and saving thousands of lives through their accurate prediction of Cyclone Hudhud.
The Prime Minister said that when he speaks of ease of doing business in India, he also wants to pay equal attention to the ease of doing research and development in India. He said funding proposals must not take too long to clear, and scientific departments must have flexibility of funding decisions based on the uncertainties inherent in research activities. He also called for clear regulatory policies for research and development in areas like biotechnology, nanoscience, agriculture and clinical research.
The Prime Minister said each government department should have an officer focusing on science and technology relating to its area of work; and, allocate a percentage of its budget for such activities. “We have to place the university system at the cutting edge of the research and development activities in the country,” he added. He said universities must be freed from the clutches of excessive regulation and cumbersome procedures.
The Prime Minister called upon Indian industry to step up investments in science and technology in its own interest. He said India’s own pharmaceutical industry has carved out a place for itself in the world, because it invests significantly in research.
He welcomed the initiatives of Department of Science and Technology for involving thousands of children and youth in science and technology.
The Prime Minister said India must “restore the pride and prestige of science and scientists in our nation; revive the romance for science in society; rekindle the love for it in our children; and, encourage our scientists – to dream, imagine and explore.”
The Prime Minister began his address by paying homage to eminent scientist Vasant Gowarikar, who passed away recently.