Following is the text of the Speech of Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Shri Vayalar Ravi at the 2nd INSPIRE Awards Ceremony in New Delhi today:
“My dear Children and their proud teachers and parents! I am extremely happy to be here amidst all of you. This is the second such event where children from all over the country, from each State and Union Territory, have come after stiff competition among friends to demonstrate some of the best projects developed at the School level. And, I am told that the number of participants has grown substantially this year. As against 700 odd participants last year, we have over 1100 entries this year. I must thank all of you and your teachers and parents for your active participation in the INSPIRE Scheme. It is only when the enrolment in a Scheme is so overwhelming that, we in the Government, feel convinced that a crucial gap has indeed been filled. I must thank all of you for your whole-hearted enrolment in this Scheme. And, the zeal, enthusiasm and energy that all of you exude today is almost infectious.
Science and Technology have also been at the core of human development since the beginning of human civilization. Each invention, has revolutionized the way civilizations have grown. It is true that some of these inventions came much earlier than their scientific explanations because of day-to-day need, but these are major scientific inventions nonetheless. Science and Technology as generator of wealth and economic might came to the fore with Industrial Revolution in the recent world history. In today's world, when anyone can source products from anywhere in the world, it is not enough to just copy and produce at lower costs. That cannot take us very far. We need to research, innovate and come up with newer and more competitive products and technologies all the time. And, this requires that our young people, children like you, take to scientific research and innovate in the technology domain in larger and larger numbers. Our recent achievements in Information Technology, Biotechnology and Drugs and Pharma Sector prove that we can be a force to reckon with once we are able to focus our attention and energies. Seeing all of you in such large number bubbling with creative energy assures me that our future is not only safe but bright in the hands of all of you.
We are fortunate that the founding fathers of our Nation were quite far-sighted and recognized quite early after independence the role science and technology could play in instilling scientific temper among people and in meeting the developmental goals of the nation. I would like to quote the first few lines from the Scientific Policy Resolution of 1958:
"The key to national prosperity, apart from the spirit of the people, lies, in the modern age, in the effective combination of three factors, technology, raw materials and capital, of which the first is perhaps the most important, since the creation and adoption of new scientific techniques can, in fact, make up for a deficiency in natural resources, and reduce the demands on capital. But technology can only grow out of the study of science and its applications…"
What prophetic words? It was our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru who coined the word "scientific temper". "Scientific temper" finds a mention in our Constitution as you would have seen in your NCERT textbooks. The Government now plans to bring in a new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy in 2013. However, you will find that science and technology have been identified as the central enabling forces in the development of the Nation in all these policy pronouncements. Following up on these policy directions, the Government has established large number of universities and colleges, IITs, NITs, IISERs, national laboratories and mission agencies in the country over the years. You are fortunate to be born at a time when there are world-class institutions for education and research in almost all fields in the country.
I am especially happy that all of you have worked on a creative project at such a young age. It is well known that scientific creativity blooms early in life. I am sure, all of you have heard of Maxwell. Without his work on electrodynamics, there will be no electromagnetic waves --- no radio, no mobile phones, no satellite communication and so on. Do you know when he wrote his first scientific paper? At the age of 14. Einstein wrote his first paper when he was 22 and did his path-breaking work on special relativity when he was 26. Our own CV Raman wrote his first paper when he was 18, Ramanujan started his own research by the time he was 17, astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar's Nobel Prize winning work was done when he was 19 or 20. The list is pretty long, but the trend is very clear. There is something which causes people to make path-breaking discoveries early in their lives. May be, because the curiosity levels are higher when you are young and curiosity is the first stage of scientific breakthroughs. Then, one is more likely to be original in thinking when young because the mind is yet to be conditioned. And '"originality" is the next most important thing in scientific research. And, third, breaking new grounds in scientific research requires a bit of adventure, and young people are more likely to be adventurous than the old.
I will, therefore, like all of you, and the children in the country at large who are not here, to continue with the passion of doing science. Camps like this are important and inspiring first steps. The pursuit of science is rigorous and intense. The country has made substantial investments in innovative schemes like INSPIRE and various attractive scholarship schemes in the recent past. A large number of quality educational institutions have been established like new IITs and IISERs. The private sector is also doing its bit to promote higher education in science and engineering. Large number of R&D labs are being established by the industry, both national and multinational. We have done all this to offer our children good opportunities to pursue science education and a research career afterwards. I would strongly urge you to make use of these opportunities. I would like to see you working hard for science and winning laurels for yourself and the country. Make use of the opportunities, study and work hard on your research and do us all proud. Seeing your enthusiasm and commitment, I have full faith that our young children will do this Nation proud by their achievements in science and technology”.