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Expenditure on science, technology should be increased: PM

JAMMU : Pitching for more funds to promote science, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the country’s annual expenditure on science and technology should be at least two per cent of the GDP.
“To do science, someone must pay for it.We must increase our annual expenditure on science and technology to at least 2 per cent of GDP. This has to come from both Government and industry.
“In countries such as South Korea, where a high percentage of the GDP goes to science, the contribution of industry is significant,” Singh noted.
In his inaugural address at the 101st Indian Science Congress here, the Prime Minister also said that India is joining the CERN, a premiere European Organisation for Nuclear Research, as an associate member.
“India will partner with international scientific community in establishment of the world’s major R&D projects. In the Gravitational Wave Experiment, India intends to host the third detector. A Neutrino-based Observatory is proposed to be established in Tamil Nadu at a cost of about Rs 1450 crore. India is also joining the CERN as an associate member,” Singh said
Lauding Indian scientists working in the fields of atomic energy, space and earth science, the Prime Minister said India has occupied an “enviable position” in these fields.
“Indian nuclear scientists are attracting global interest in their efforts to develop a Fast Breeder reactor. I expect the prototype under construction in Kalpakkam to be completed this year. We will be one of the few countries with leadership in a completely new area of nuclear technology that can contribute to a non-polluting world.
“The launch of our Moon and Mars Mission are a testimony of the giant strides we are making in space. We have now the ability to issue alerts within 13 minutes of a tsunami-genic event,” he noted.
“Our decision to set up a new Ministry of Earth Sciences following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004 and to invest in world-class tsunami forewarning systems in 2007 has been amply rewarded”, the Prime Minister said.
He said the country’s advances in meteorology were evident during the cyclone in Odisha, when “we received accurate forecasts of landfall point that were more accurate than the forecasts of well known international bodies.”
“I would also like to see continuous improvement in our monsoon prediction capability through the recently launched Monsoon Mission so that we can avert the kind of calamities that we saw in Uttarakhand last year”, he said.
The Prime Minister also announced a National Mission on High Performance Computing with an outlay of Rs 4500 crore.
“We are also considering establishment of a National Geographical Information System with an outlay of about Rs 3000 crore. A National Mission on teaching to enhance the esteem of our teachers is also being launched,” Singh said.
Batting for Bt crops, Singh said while safety must be ensured we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices.
“To ensure food security and to improve and water productivity, we have to launch a national drive for an ever-green revolution.”
Singh also announced institution of 25 Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowships, under which eminent scientists from abroad will be invited to work in India for 12 months over a period of three years.
Under this initiative, the Government will give 1 lakh USD for three years to the fellows. The Government has already selected five scientists, who are also the Fellows of the Royal Society, London, under this scheme.
The Prime Minister also urged scientists to learn from the past and connect with the present and focus on the future.
“Our basic research must be directed at new discoveries with innovative efforts to develop affordable solutions. Above all, our science should be a driving force propelling India as a resurgent civilisation which holds out both hope and opportunity,”¬†he said.
This is the first time that the Indian Science Congress is being held in Jammu.
Recognising the role of scientific inputs in providing accessible and affordable healthcare programmes, the Government has established a new department for Health Education and Research, the Prime Minister said.
“Efforts to discover drugs for neglected diseases are beginning to bear fruit. A Rota Virus vaccine, a new drug for malaria and many other leads emanating from collaborative research are all reassuring developments”, he said.
“The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has leveraged Open Source Innovation for discovery of drugs and found a lead for TB. CSIR has also ventured into the new world of data-intensive discovery and large data systems,” he said.
Calling upon the scientific community to take a lead in the global arena, Prime Minister said, “India needs to leverage the ability of modern science to deliver value to society. We must also seek global leadership in at least some research and development areas”.
“Affordable innovations for human healthcare, sustainable agriculture, clean energy and total solutions for water-related challenges are some areas where Indian science can seek global leadership”, he said.
As the country is expected to have the largest population of youth entering stepping into the world of higher education, Singh said it was important to give more attention to science education.
“We must find ways of encouraging them to take up the right path that will provide them not only productive employment but also excitement in their profession,” he said, adding the Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education has more than doubled in ten years and now stood at 19 per cent.

Recognising the role of scientific inputs in providing accessible and affordable healthcare programmes, the Government has established a new department for Health Education and Research, the Prime Minister said.
“Efforts to discover drugs for neglected diseases are beginning to bear fruit. A Rota Virus vaccine, a new drug for malaria and many other leads emanating from collaborative research are all reassuring developments”, he said.
“The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has leveraged Open Source Innovation for discovery of drugs and found a lead for TB. CSIR has also ventured into the new world of data-intensive discovery and large data systems,” he said.
Calling upon the scientific community to take a lead in the global erana, Prime Minister said, “India needs to leverage the ability of modern science to deliver value to society. We must also seek global leadership in at least some research and development areas”.
“Affordable innovations for human healthcare, sustainable agriculture, clean energy and total solutions for water-related challenges are some areas where Indian science can seek global leadership”, he said.
As the country is expected to have the largest population of youth entering stepping into the world of higher education, Singh said it was important to give more attention to science education.
“We must find ways of encouraging them to take up the right path that will provide them not only productive employment but also excitement in their profession,” he said, adding the Gross Enrolment Ratio in Higher Education has more than doubled in ten years and now stood at 19 per cent.
Noting that the Department of Biotechnology has activated private public partnerships in R&D in biotechnology, Singh asked the corporate sector to join hands with the Government in “realising the goals that we have set for our nation”.
“The 2013 Science, Technology and Innovation Policy reflects our ambitions and outlines our broad approach. We have strengthened the research and academic base of the country as a critical foundation to achieve these goals”.
“We have also taken a number of measures to make a career in science more attractive. We have worked to create a synergy of academia with research, research with industry, industry with economy and economy with the well-being of our people,” he said.
The Sixth Pay Commission has improved substantially the condition of academic and scientific personnel and international surveys have shown that India now scores well in terms of salary structures for scientific personnel, Singh said.
India’s gross expenditure per full time R&D personnel is increasing as compared to other countries, he said.
Singh said there is evidence of rejuvenation of research in Indian universities. “Global surveys this year have put Punjab University at the top of Indian institutions of higher learning”.
“Government departments like Space, Atomic Energy and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research have taken important steps forward to establish academies and build backward linkages with our universities in the last ten years, thus enabling cross-fertilisation of ideas”, he said.
Recalling that a few years ago he had announced a scheme to attract talent in the field of science and research, he said the scheme, known as INSPIRE, has now emerged as the Government’s most highly acclaimed and recognised programmes.
“It has rewarded more than one million children and generated over 400 patent-grade innovations from our young Indians”.
“A major research funding organisation, the National Science and Engineering Research Board, has just started functioning. This Board is managed by scientists and it has simplified funding procedures.
“We expect much more from it in supporting individual scientists as well as groups of scientists in creating small units devoted to crucial sectors at the very frontiers of science”, he said.
On young scientists, he said, “We have also devised several ways of supporting young scientists as well as senior scientists in the last ten years”.
The JC Bose and Ramanujan Fellowships, and other similar initiatives, are intended to ensure that science is attractive as a profession, and capable individuals get adequate support for their research work, the Prime Minister said.
The eminent scientists selected for the Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowships are Prof M. Vidyasagar, computational biologist at University of Texas, Prof Srinivas Kulkarni, astronomer at Caltech, Prof Trevor Charles Platt, geo-scientist at Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada, Prof. Srinivasa Varadhan, mathematical scientist at New York University and Prof. Azim Surani, life scientist at the University of Cambridge.
“I recognise and we all recognise that the Government must focus on creating new opportunities for our bright and socially conscious scientists”, he said.
“Our Government selected Professor CNR Rao for the highest civilian award of Bharat Ratna. Let this be only the first step in creating an environment that gives birth to many more Bharat Ratnas in the field of Indian science. That is my wish that is my prayer”, he said.
Maintaining that he was deeply aware of the importance of science, he said, “I belong to a generation which drew its inspiration from the life and work of Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister, who asked at the dawn of independence: ‘Who indeed could afford to ignore science today? At every turn, we have to seek its aid’ … The future belongs to science.” (AGENCIES)

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