13 Dec :The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, launched the INSPIRE, a scholarship programme of the Department of Science & Technology in New Delhi today. Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion:
“I am extremely pleased to be here in your midst to launch the “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research” or the INSPIRE scheme of the Department of Science & Technology. I had announced this programme at the last Indian Science Congress. I compliment the Minister of Science and Technology Shri Kapil Sibal and his colleagues in the Ministry for bringing this innovative and landmark programme to fruition.
Recognizing the great importance of this initiative, our Government has made an allocation of Rs. 2100 crores for it in the Eleventh Plan period. These allocations are in keeping with our Government’s commitment to provide strong policy and financial support to the growth of the S&T sector in our country.
It is a fact that in recent years, the talented youth of the country are gravitating to other disciplines than science. Science is no longer necessarily the career of choice of the meritorious students. This trend has long-term implications for our development and for our competitive strength in the evolving global economy. Knowledge and innovation as never before are the keys to competitiveness and wealth creation in the fast evolving global economy.
The founding fathers of our Republic understood the central role that scientific development must play in processes of nation-building. The Scientific Policy Resolution adopted by our Parliament as early in 1958 starts with the following statement "-
"The key to national prosperity, apart from the spirit of the people, lies, in the modern age, in the effective combination of three factors, technology, raw materials and capital, of which the first is perhaps the most important, since the creation and adoption of news scientific techniques can, in fact, make up for a deficiency in natural resources, and reduce the demands on capital. But technology can only grow out of the study of science and its applications…"
The INSPIRE programme is an important initiative of our Government that aims to strengthen the roots of the knowledge infrastructure of our economy. It is significant because it targets the entire learning pyramid from young learners to researchers. The scale of the programme is unprecedented and it proposes to cover one million young learners.
Not only do we want to feed our knowledge economy with a steady stream of bright young minds, but we also want to inculcate a scientific temper and a spirit of inquiry and creativity in our youth.
The underlying philosophy behind INSPIRE is based on the role that excitement, motivation, mentoring, promotion of excellence and assured career opportunities in research play in nurturing a meritorious scientist.
Our Government is committed to doing all that is necessary to rejuvenate research in the university sector. I fully appreciate that universities are under considerable stress on account of the challenge to expand their capacities in a short period of time. But research, particularly scientific research, is central to the vitality of a university and to the ability of its faculties to keep abreast of current developments and to be academic leaders in their respective disciplines. Creativity has to be nurtured. Innovation has to be encouraged. Excellence has to be rewarded.
With a view to promote scientific research in our universities, the Ministry of Science and Technology has proposed a special scheme named Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE). I am very happy to have launched this new scheme, which provides an incentive grant to performing universities based on scientific publications in Science Citation Indexed Journals. I sincerely hope that many more universities would enroll into scientific research and become qualified for such recognitions and incentive grants.
I am pleased and delighted that recent data shows that publications in Science Citation Journals of the world from India have been registering an annual growth of about 10% during the last few years. A total of 14 universities are among the 35 high productivity S&T institutions of the country whose contributions figure significantly in such publications during the last ten years.
For a country with our vast underlying scientific potential, these should be seen as rather modest gains. We should think big and act purposefully towards more ambitious goals.
Unlike other major scientific nations, India has a young population. If we can get our act together, this favourable demographic profile can be exploited enormously to make India a key knowledge supplier in the global economy in the next few decades.
We have trebled our investments into the S&T sector during the Eleventh Plan in comparison to the Tenth Plan. These investments would require matching efforts to increase our absorption capacity within the S&T system.
The number of full time equivalent professionals in the Research & Development sector in India per million of population is about 112. The corresponding figure for other major countries is many times higher. We have made very significant investments in upgrading our education infrastructure to cope with this projected demand. But clearly much more needs to be done and will be done.
The private sector has also to play its due role. An integrated and efficient knowledge chain should build strong synergies between our industrial and research establishments both in the public and the private sector. At present, barely one-fourth of R&D expenditure in our country comes from the private sector. Within industrial R&D expenditure, nearly 40% comes from one sector alone – drugs and pharmaceuticals. It will be difficult to sustain the competitiveness of our diversified industrial base unless these figures show considerable improvement in the years to come.
We are also looking at innovative ways of multiplying the reach of our education infrastructure. We are putting in place an Integrated National Knowledge Network that would have nodes at all major institutions of higher education and learning. This network would help our institutions of higher learning to connect with each other and to carry on relevant interdisciplinary dialogue.
What greater national priority can there be than to educate and empower our children and give them the chance of a life of hope, a life of purpose, a life of opportunity and a life of intellectual fulfillment? The opportunities and challenges in the global knowledge economy are boundless. Our government has invested a lot in building a strong and vibrant S&T system. I seek the cooperation and active support of all of you in making it happen. The future is here.”