PM announces another National Mission on High Performance Computing

*Omar for liberal dissemination of knowledge

Nishikant Khajuria


JAMMU, Feb 3:  Pitching for more funds to promote Science, the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today announced  another National Mission on High Performance Computing with an outlay  of Rs 4500 crores and said that the Government was also considering establishment of a National Geographical Information System costing Rs 3000 crores.
“We must increase out annual expenditure  on Science and technology to at least 2 percent of GDP and this has to come from both Government and industry,” he said and exhorted the corporate sector to join hands with the Government in realizing the goals set for the nation.
The Prime Minister was  delivering inaugural address in the 101st Indian Science Congress at  Jammu University, here this morning in the presence of galaxy of  VVIPS and delegates.
Announcing that India will partner the international scientific community in the  establishment of  some of the  world’s major Research and Development project, Dr Singh disclosed that the country was joining CERN Institute, a premier European organization for nuclear research, as an associate member while in the Gravitational Wave Experiment, India intends to host the third detector.
Stressing that  India needs to leverage the ability of modern  science to deliver value to society, the Prime Minister opined that that  affordable innovations for human healthcare,  sustainable agriculture, clean energy and total solutions for water-related challenges were  some areas where Indian science could seek  global leadership.
“Indian scientists must learn from the past, connect with the present and focus on the future. Our basic research must be directed to make new discoveries with innovative efforts to develop affordable solution,” he said adding that science should be a driving force propelling India as a resurgent civilization which holds out both hope and opportunity to young citizens.
Emphasizing the need to ensure food security, Prime Minister  took a strong stance in favour of genetically modified crops  and urged  the people of the country not to be swayed by “unscientific prejudices” against them. “Use of biotechnology has great potential to improve yields. While safety must  be ensured, we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt crops”, he said.
On the occasion, the Prime Minister  announced the names of five eminent scientists, who have been selected under the Government’s recently instituted Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowships. The fellowship is open exclusively to scientists who are either Nobel Laureates or Fellows of UK’s Royal Society, or members of the US or French academies of science.
The selected scientists, who  would have to conduct research in an institution in India for a period of 12 months that can be spent in installments spread over a three year period, include  Prof Srinivasa Varadhan of New York University, computational biologist Prof  M Vidyasagar of University of Texas, life scientist Prof  Azim Surani of University of Cambridge, Astronomer Prof  Srinivas Kulkarni of Caltech, and geo-scientist Prof  Trevor Charles Platt of Bedford Institute of Oceanography. Four of the winners are Fellows of the Royal Society and one is an Abel medalist.
As the Parliament elections are approaching nearer, the Prime Minister did not miss the opportunity to project the achievements of his Government over the past 10 years in the field of science and technology. He noted that the sixth pay commission had improved the conditions for the academic and scientific personnel. “International surveys have shown that India scores well in terms of salary structures for scientific personnel. Our gross expenditure per full time R&D personnel is increasingly comparable in purchasing power parity terms to some of the more developed R&D systems of the world”, he said.
Dr Singh also mentioned the setting up of five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research , eight new IITs and development of backward linkages between Government departments such as Space, Atomic Energy and CSIR with universities to enable cross-fertilization of ideas,  establishment of the National Science and Engineering Research Board and initiation of schemes like INSPIRE to attract youngster to science and technology.
Expressing his pleasure  over successful launch of GSLV, powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine recently, the Prime Minister said Indian nuclear scientists were attracting global interest  in their effort to develop a Fast Breeder Reactor.  “I expect the prototype under construction in Kalpakkam to be completed this year. It will be a great day for Indian science and technology because  we will be one of the few countries in the world with leadership  in a completely new area of nuclear technology that can contribute non-polluting electrical power”, he said.
Mr Singh also informed that a Neutrino-based observatory is proposed to be set in Tamil Nadu at a cost of Rs 1450 crore. “India has occupied  an “enviable position” in the field of science and 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.
He said the country’s advances in meteorology were evident during  the cyclone in Odisha, Mr Singh that he  would also like to see continuous improvement in monsoon prediction capability through the recently launched Monsoon Mission  so that we can avert the kind of calamities witnessed in Uttarakhand  last year.
Union Minister for Science and Technology,  S Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Dr Farooq Abdullah, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and Governor N N Vohra were also on the dais during inaugural function of 5-day mega event, which is being hosted by Jammu University for the  first time in its history.
All of them, including the Prime Minister, were attired in the ceremonial robes for the Science Congress occasion.
Earlier, in his keynote address, Jaipal Reddy  said that inclusiveness of our national growth would rely heavily upon the availability, accessibility and affordability of the products of innovation. “The innovation eco system, should therefore build into it inclusiveness of growth as one of the key dimensions,” he added.
The Union Minister said that his ministry  in association with other sister ministries and departments was  launching some game changing programmes in mega science, high performance computing, National Geographical Information System and many more.
He said that being the flag bearers of the scientific community, the Indian Science Congress delegates need to carry the message of Science to the people of India. “There is also a need of an ecosystem for propelling  India among the top 10 or 15 nations in innovation sector. This  would call for trust among the inter-institutional linkages, risk bearing potentials in our financial appraisal systems, Application mind set in educational sector, Venturing mindset among our investors, Entrepreneurial spirit in the industrial community and Leadership focus in the country,” he said.
Mr Reddy further said that inclusive development agenda of the country could be best served by making all large cross section of the society both the innovator and beneficiary of innovation at the same time.  He announced that the Government would soon launch a Rs  250 crore scheme for scaling up innovations that would serve the needs of the common man and an overseas scholarship programme to bridge gaps in critical and frontier areas of scientific research.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, in his address called for open science and liberal dissemination of knowledge.
“There should be no monopoly on Science. All innovations should have universal implications and consequences that would lead to amelioration of human condition. Global public goods like cure for AIDS or cancer and diffusion of technologies to better and improve services and systems for mankind cannot be patented,” he said.
Omar said that solving technological problems demands scientific knowledge. “Technology makes it possible to discover new scientific knowledge, hence, both enjoy a symbiotic relation. Science, technology and innovations are having an expanding effect in our daily lives,” he said.
Speaking in favour of open science, he said there was a need for liberal dissemination of knowledge. “Open science is more conducive to the rate of growth of society’s stock of knowledge. I, therefore, call for an approach that aligns befitting returns from science and knowledge”.
Omar said while patents on innovations may give a sense of ownership to the innovation and science entrepreneur, the benefits of science should not be exclusive.
He said Governments should try to make innovative quests profitable by encouraging research and development by subsidizing aspects involved in the process and making innovation in science and technology as the centre piece of public policy.
General President of Indian Science Congress Association, Prof R C Sobti, who presided over the function,  highlighted the efficacy and importance of Indian Science Congress for the growth and development of science and technology in the country.
JU Vice-Chancellor Prof M P S Ishar presented a formal vote of thanks.