Making India a tech powerhouse: Focus on upgrading science and research

harsh vardhanAmid partisan political rhetoric, it’s refreshing to see a senior Indian minister talking about moving India up the ladder of science and research – the core areas that can stimulate the resurgence of the country into a tech powerhouse.

Emphasising the government’s attentiveness in the field of science and renewable energy, India’s Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan has said that the Narendra Modi-led government is committed to giving a significant importance to the state of science research in India.

“Being a man of medicine and having toured most of the famous science institutions of the world over the past three decades, I am aware of the paucity of facilities and incentives for carrying out research in cutting edge science,” Mr Vardhan told scientists and scholars at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of the Sciences (IACS) in Kolkata.

He highlighted that improving the condition of basic science research in the country is the main thrust of this government. India, in past, had the vision of being self-sufficient and charting its own course of development in this particular field, but somehow it lost its way. But now, with the introduction of “Make in India” campaign, Mr Modi wished to recreate that thrust.

He vowed to bring a paradigm shift in the interest and power of young Indian scientists. He said that there were many young scientists in India, who needed to be recognised and motivated through awards and recognition, that these people were the main reason behind the significant development of the country.

Mr Vardhan also referred to India’s limited resources, which have proved to be a hindrance in the scientist’s effort. He, however, pointed out that these limited resources didn’t deter scientists like Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose, Dr C.V. Raman, Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray, Dr S.N.Bose in carrying out their remarkable findings, that too in the colonial rule.

“The Prime Minister and I consider it unacceptable that prior to Independence we could produce great scientists in India, but after that only from the United States of America. Therefore this government wants the centre of excellences in India to perform better,” he added.

He also spoke about renewable energy, and said that several initiatives have been taken in the Energy Research Unit of The Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), which was founded by Father Eugene Lafont, the Belgian Jesuit, and Dr Mahendralal Sircar. Referring to the one such government’s initiative, he said, “I have also taken up a project to install solar-power fuelled lights, fans and intelligent flushes in all the public toilets in my constituency –Chandni Chowk. Thanks to the advice given by Dr Gonchaudhury, this is working out cheaper than the thermal power option. I am sure that in the near future solar power will be free for the consumer.”

The minister also touched on genomics, and said that Cloud-based Genome Analysis Service, DNA editing and other such developments had created a huge pressure on societies. Genomics and its related methodologies were new to most people of India, and the country is trying to grapple with it, he said. He underlined that it was the perfect time for young Indian scientists to step up and pursue research on this frontier area of bio-sciences.

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