Following is the text of the speech made by the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh at the inaugural function of the 99th Indian Science Congress at Bhubaneswar today.
“The 99th Session of Indian Science Congress has been convened in this ancient temple city of Bhubaneswar with a long history since Cheddi dynasty. It is only fitting that we meet in Bhubaneswar, when the UNESCO – Kalinga prize for Science popularization instituted by Shri Biju Patnaik 60 years ago is being celebrated. Let me also join in welcoming the distinguished delegates to the Science congress and diamond jubilee of UNESCO Kalinga prize.
Our First Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru also said and I quote “The future belongs to science and those who make friends with science”.
World has come to realize that science, technology and innovation would impact the future societies and make friends with science. Nations invest significantly into science. Exponential advances in science and technology have triggered intensive social transformations.
At the time of Independence, India had inherited a shattered economy. The life expectancy at birth was less than 30. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, revealed faith in scientific research for solving problems of the poor and the country. He invested into R&D establishments when India was poor. Today, infant mortality rate has gone down to almost half of what it was sixty years ago; average life expectancy has more than doubled. To me, these are returns from science to people for the investments made then.
We solved the problem of food shortage through green revolution and milk shortage through white revolution. Science and our scientists have delivered solutions whenever challenged by national problems.
We look at tomorrow from where we stand today. We notice that world is turning into a large and connected village. Globalization has moved science, technology and innovation and dynamics of knowledge production to the center stage of development. Social contract of science is much more evident today than ever before.
Investment into R&D will be increased from present level of less than 1% to 2% of the GDP. Emerging Asian economies are increasing their R&D investments markedly. China files five times more patents than India per billion dollars of GDP. The private sector engagement and investment are essential for gaining from the R&D outputs through their commercialization.
We need big ideas in science, new methods in governance of R&D systems, right investment of resources, aspiration to emerge as world leader in science and dedication to serve the people of India through the tools of technology and affordable innovations.
Our science and technology policy was enunciated in 2003. We need a new and well enunciated Science, Technology and Innovation policy. It should promote an innovation ecosystem that addresses the national priority for inclusive and sustained growth. My Ministry will dedicate to the Nation such a well balanced policy soon. To make sensible use of the bio-technological tools and techniques for the benefit of our people, we are establishing a transparent and evidence-based regulatory system.
We must present paradigm shift in our mindsets of developing “policy for science’ to developing “science policy for people”. Current Indian policies treat the R&D sector in segregated compartments. A change in the policy paradigm for treating the entire R&D sector in the country as one and developing PPPs for R&D to promote public and social good are important new strategies. R&D outputs should be converted into measurable economic and social outcomes.
Let me connect to the theme of “The role our women in inclusive Innovation”. What will propel the Indian women to be at the vanguard of National development? Today education and social awareness encourage our women to accept different careers. Women-in-science is a conscious developmental paradigm. I chair a task force for enhancing the role of women in Indian science. The task force in engaged in ensuring that more and more innovation leaders emerge from among our women
That gender relations and innovation are constantly changing in their own spheres is well known. We should connect them through both policy and programmes.
My ministries are working hard to enable the Indian science, technology and innovation system deliver what the nation and people of India expect from us. This is period of positive developments in Indian science. Sir, our ministries are initiating several new programmes. The Ministry of Earth Sciences is launching a “Monsoon Mission”. An Earthquake study through deep-borehole investigation in Koyna-Warna area of Maharashtra is also being initiated. A North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) is being established at Shillong by the Department of Science & Technology. Research on Himalayan glaciology is also being strengthened. CSIR is setting up a series of Innovation Complexes with world class facilities for undertaking translational research in partnership with Industry, R&D Institutions and Universities. The first three of them will be positioned at Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.
Current Indian policies treat the R&D sector in segregated compartments. A change in the policy paradigm for treating the entire R&D sector in the country as one and developing PPPs for R&D to promote public and social good are important new strategies. R&D outputs should be converted into measurable economic and social outcomes.
Let me connect to the theme of “The role our women in inclusive Innovation”. Presently 60% of all graduates across Asia, America and Europe are women. They are well educated. Indian women are hardwired to not only understand but also apply economic principles even better than men. Harnessing the power of talented women “will pave the way for future of generations”.
To conclude, I wish to say that given the unprecedented support from the Hon’ble Prime Minister and the Planning Commission to Science, Technology and Innovation in formulating the 12th Five Year Plan, my ministry will assure the country that India will emerge as a major player in the science world before the end of 2017.”