Lok Sabha TV- Public Forum: Promoting Scientific Excellence
Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi inaugurated the 104th Indian Science Congress recently in Tirupati. Tirupati was hosting the Science Congress for the second time, the first being in 1983. While addressing the gathering, the Prime Minister spoke at length about scientific excellence and about how it can be promoted. He advocated scientific social responsibility for leading institutions on the lines of corporate social responsibility. He requested the scientists to keep an eye on rise of disruptive technologies and pledged Government’s support to different scientific schemes and streams with emphasis on innovation. He also spoke on rapid rise of cyber physical system which has the potential to pose unprecedented challenges to the demographic dividend. While emphasizing on ease of doing science for better scientific delivery, he said that if we want science to deliver, then we must not constrain it.
The institutions should strengthen their research in line with global practices. Giving importance to protection of environment and climate, there is also a need to keep a check those technologies which can hamper growth. India has an impressive scientific heritage in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine etc and there have been significant achievements in the name of Indian scientist since ancient times. However, in the present times, a remarkable gap has persisted between the scientific knowledge and the people whom it affects the most that is the common man.
At present India is at 6th position globally in terms of scientific excellence. With the present scientific strengths that India has it may not be very difficult to attain 3rd rank in this list by 2030 as envisaged by Mr. Narendra Modi. The budgetary allocation in science and technology has been raised this year which is expected to increase in coming years as well. Ministry of Science and Technology which has three departments: DST, DBT and Ministry of Earth Sciences. These are the major organizations where the budgetary allocations go from where they are further provided to the technical institutions or programmes being run by these organizations.
Till now in the industries, it was corporate social responsibility which was responsible for some development work. Unnat Bharat Abhiyan is a Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India programme to uplift rural India. The programme was launched in collaboration with the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and other leading Government Engineering Institutes. It basically led importance on the fact that how technical institutions could lend a helping hand in rural development using technologies relevant to society. Many institutions have adopted villages around them and are taking initiatives in their development with the help of district administration for Gram Panchayat Development Plans etc.
Now a days, technology is advancing at a fast pace. Research is happening in the labs but it is not coming up from labs to land. There is a mechanism required for this to happen. In agriculture, there is a proper mechanism as there are research institutes followed by Krishi Vigyan Kendras and helplines for farmers. So, in agriculture, the technology is being transferred to the farmers up to a great extent. A programme has been launched by the present government named Mera Gaon Mera Gaurav. Under this, the Government has identified clusters which are located up to 100 kilometers area of the research institutes and here a team of scientists are asked to visit the area, identify the problems of the farmers and to find out how the technologies developed by IARI can be best applied for their requirements.
Disruptive technology is a term that was coined in 1995 by Clayton M. Christensen. It is any technology which is coming in the market and disrupting existing the value network of previous technology prevailing in that market. For example: As soon as the digital cameras came into existence, the photo film company suffered a huge setback. People have to be made capable to handle the new technologies which is changing and coming up at a very fast pace.
Waste to wealth is a very prominent sector which has come to the forefront. Earlier this was not a commercial sector. Whether it is biodegradable, e-waste, plastic waste or non- biodegradable waste, it is present everywhere. Biodegradable waste can be used in a judicious manner such as incineration, depolymerization, gasification and others to generate energy for local needs. This would reduce transportation costs of carrying them and reduce the harmful impact on environment.
Cyber physical infrastructure system is a requirement of the present generation and should be looked as an opportunity than threat. Smart grids, mobile phones, medical diagnostics and others are based on this technology. India’s demographic dividend is increasing at a very fast pace. Technology minimizes the use of human manpower. Considered this way, it is certainly a stress. If we skill our manpower to handle and develop such technology, then it will not be a stress.
Science has answers to all questions of mankind. Scientific programmes have to be linked with the welfare of the society. Agriculture system, water management, energy systems, rural industries, health, education etc are some of the areas where special focus and more investment in research and development is needed. More public private partnership in this field is also required to use the infrastructure available already in an effective manner and provide education and scientific excellence to the people.