Following is the text of the speech of the Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Ashwani Kumar on the occasion of IInd National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC) in New Delhi today.
“Globally, it is recognized that Science and Technology plays a critical role in improving the livelihoods of people and the modernization of society. There is no country in the world that has developed or is rapidly developing without applying the principles and practices of science and technology as the drivers of socio-economic. Science and Technology help in the achievement of operational efficiency through continuous improvement of products and services as well as upgrading performance by providing a work environment that stimulates creativity.
Science and Technology policy and strategy which provides a framework for a harmonized and coordinated approach to harness country’s collective talents and creativity, promote capacity building in Science and Technology, human, financial and infrastructure development and effective networks and linkages for knowledge generation and sharing. We are committed to facilitate the identification, acquisition, transfer, diffusion and application of relevant Science and Technology knowledge in all sectors of the economy.
We must have policies especially on Education and Science and Technology which promote the employability of the youth and facilitate knowledge-based innovation, development and sustainable growth. We must invest again in Science and Technology and support knowledge-based industries to improve our competitiveness in the technology market in order to reduce the out-migration of our human capital.
The Ministry of Science and Technology is promoting innovations through various schemes such as Technopreneur Promotion Programme (TePP); technology business incubators under Science and Technology entrepreneurship Development scheme; Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Research; Innovation Clusters; Small Business Innovative Research Imitative (SBIRI); Biotechnology Industrial partnership Programme (BIPP); open source drug discovery (OSDD) projects and grass root innovations through National Innovation Foundation.
Department of Science and Technology established on 3 May 1971 has played a catalytic role in the promotion of research and development in Science and Technology and has served the function of a nodal department organizing, coordinating and promoting S&T activities in the country. INSPIRE (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) is one of such programs developed by the Department of Science and Technology. The basic objective of “INSPIRE” is to attract talent at an early stage to study science and help to build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the Science and Technology system and R&D base. It’s a program with long term foresight.
The INSPIRE program covers students in the age group of 10-32 years, and has five components: INSPIRE Award (for 10-15 age group), INSPIRE Internship at a science camp with opportunity for interaction with global science leaders (for 16-17 age group), INSPIRE Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) @ Rs 80,000 per year for continuing education at B.Sc and M.Sc. levels (for 17-22 age group), INSPIRE fellowship for doctoral research ( for 22-27 age group ) and INSPIRE faculty for assures career opportunity ( For 27-32 age group).
The program is intended to strengthen the scientific pool of human resources by nourishing attracting and retaining young scientific talent among students. The scheme essentially provides awards to school going children, internships scholarships for higher education, fellowships and faculty awards for pursuing science. The program was launched in 2008 and the implementation started during 2009-2010. Under the scheme during the 11th Five Year Plan, 6.75 lakh INSPIRE awards have been sanctioned to 2 students from each school of the country of class 6th to 10th standard with all the 35 States and UTs participating in the scheme.
All schools in the country, recognized by the District / State Education authorities, whether Government or private, aided or un-aided , run by Central Government or State Government or local bodies, and having classes 6th to 10 are eligible to participate in the scheme. Proposal to expand the coverage of scheme during the 12th Plan, to select one child per school per year is under consideration of the Government, this would mean 2 million (20 lakh) Awards will be sanctioned during the 5 year period @ about 4 lakh Awards per year.
I am glad to learn that last year there were 688 projects which participated in the Ist National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC) and out of 688 Projects, 85 have been shortlisted by the Patent Facilitating Centre for detailed examination for possible patenting in some cases. This year, in the 2nd NLEPC 1138 children are participating and we look forward for more patents and designs. It’s also a matter of pride that the girls participation is touching around 50%. The NLEPC event is an excellent opportunity for students across the country to come and converge at one point and witness each other’s scientific pursuits and talents. The National Science Exhibitions presents an opportunity to appreciate the role of science, technology and innovation in socioeconomic development of the country.
In this journey, young people like many of those gathered here are our nation’s hope and future. I congratulate the awardees for their talent, for their devotion to duty and for their aspirations for Indian science. Young scientists must dream big and refuse to despair”.