Bhubaneswar: Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated the 99th Indian Science Congress. Governor M. C. Bhandare, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Science and Technology Minister, Vilasrao Desmukh and Minister of State for Science and Technology, Ashwani Kumar were present on occassion.
Mr. Singh in his inaugural speech said “I am delighted to be here in Bhubaneswar for the 99th Annual Session of the Indian Science Congress. Odisha is a most appropriate venue for the Congress as this year we celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the UNESCO-Kalinga Prize set up by the Late Shri Biju Patnaik. Indian science owes much to the vision of our early nation builders who gave science a prominent place in our development planning processes.”
Stating that GDP investment in India in Research and Development (R and D) as too low and stagnant, Mr. Singh said, “We must ensure a major increase in investment in R and D including the industry and strategic sector, creation of new innovation eco system and expand the basic science infrastructure. Moreover, we must encourage greater research collaboration among universities and national laboratories. We hope to use the National Knowledge Network to this end”.
Adding more Mr. Singh said, we must aim to increase the total R and D depending as a percentage of the GDP to 2 per cent by the end of 12th plan period from the current level of 0.9 per cent.
Mr. Singh said, “we have to increase public private partnerships and catalyse significantly increased interaction between publicly owned Science and Technology institutions and industry. It is in some ways ironic that General Electric and Motorola have created world-class technology hubs in India, while our own industry has not done so, except perhaps in the pharmaceutical sector. We need therefore, to look at ways of incentivising private Research and Development investment under Indian conditions.”
At present, publicly funded R&D is skewed in favour of fundamental rather than applied research. It is easier to attract industrial funds into applied research areas and a set of principles should be formulated to push such funding and to drive Public-Private-Partnerships in Research and Development.
Mr. Singh also voiced concern over a large number of women scientists remaining unemployed due to lack of job opportunities.
However, congratulating the Science Congress for highlighting the role of women in science, the Prime Minister lauded the women scientists for making a mark in traditionally male bastions and decisively breaking the glass ceiling. The Project Director of the Agni Missile programme is a distinguished woman scientist Dr. Tessy Thomas. Last year, for the first time, three women scientists received the prestigious Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award, as compared to a total of only 11 women awardees for all the years since 1958 up to then.
The PM congratulated the tribal community of Koraput for the global recognition they have received for their contribution to conserving bio-diversity and developing climate-change resilient farming systems.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Deshmukh said that the Government would soon come out with a new science policy which would include increase in R&D spending and having a transparent, evidence-based regulatory system.
More than 15,000 delegates from across India, including Nobel laureates and other scientists from abroad are participating in the five-day brainstorming science event organised jointly by KIIT University and National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER).
The five-day event will see technical sessions, plenary sessions, vision talks, panel discussions, public lectures, a ‘Pride of India’ expo and other programmes. Like the previous editions of the event, there will also be a Children’s Science Congress, where school children from different parts of India would display models and charts prepared by them. The children’s event will be inaugurated on Wednesday by former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.
The event will conclude on January 7.