PM URGES SCIENTISTS TO MAKE INDIA
AT THE PRESENTATION OF SHANTI SWAROOP BHATNAGAR AWARDS
The Prime Minister,
Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has emphasized the importance of improving
the environment for research and development in India and expressed
the confidence that scientists could do world-class research in
our own laboratories in our own country. Speaking at the presentation
of Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar awards here today, the Prime Minister
urged upon the scientists and researchers the need to make attempts
to significantly increase their output of globally recognized
research papers. The Prime Minister seized the occasion to make
an appeal to the scientists to make India ‘water secure’ and urged
the people to conserve every drop of water. Shri Vajpayee also
expressed concern over the declining interest in science among
students in comparison to the 1950s and 1960s. Besides attracting
the best students to the science stream, the Prime Minister also
emphasized the importance of creating sufficient employment opportunities
involvement for these students in the country. In this connection,
Shri Vajpayee called for the involvement of our diasporic community
to create employment opportunities.
Union Minister for
Human Resource Development, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Minister
of State for Human Resource Development, Shri Bachi Singh Rawat
were among the distinguished guests present on the occasion.
Following is the
full text of the speech of the Prime Minister on the occasion:
"This is the
fifth Bhatnagar Awards function that I have the privilege to address.
It is always heartening to be in the company of the most outstanding
among our country’s scientists. But today, I have an additional
reason to be pleased. For, I see in front of me hundreds of young
science scholars, who are participating for the first time in
the Bhatnagar Awards function.
I must congratulate
the CSIR for the ‘innovation’ it has introduced in this event
by holding the Bhatnagar Laureates Symposium. This will give the
young minds present here an opportunity to interact with the brightest
among Indian scientists.
I would like to congratulate
the Bhatnagar awardees, who have excelled in their respective
areas of research. I am happy to note that most of the Bhatnagar
awardees of yesteryears have continued to remain and work in India.
They have over the years, pioneered new schools of thought, spawned
new paradigms for technology, established centers of excellence
and won many laurels.
To the new Awardees,
I would like to say, "You now have an onerous responsibility.
You are the role model for young scientists. You have to set an
example to them by your continued pursuit of excellence in science,
high levels of ethics in your work, and the larger vision of nation-building
that ought to guide the work of scientists as well as all the
rest of us in our respective professions."
Today as I pay tribute
to the achievers – both past and present – in Indian science and
technology, I naturally think of those of our compatriots who
have gone abroad and whose superior research capabilities are
now acknowledged all over the world.
While speaking to
DRDO scientists on this year’s Technology Day, I had said that
we are proud of the fact that tens of thousands of Indian scientists
and engineers around the world are making valuable contributions
to the areas of their specialization and to economies of their
countries of domicile. Many Heads of State, including those of
industrialized nations, have spoken to me praising their contribution.
This gives us the
hope and confidence that by creating the right environment for
learning, teaching and working here in India, our talented scientists
and engineers can produce path-breaking discoveries and inventions
in our own country.
Here I am reminded
of the words of an immigrant scientist in the United States who
went on to win a Nobel Prize. "A scientist is like
a painter. Michael Angelo became a great artist because he had
been given a wall to paint. My wall was given to me by the United
So, the first thing
all of us should together resolve– those of us in Government as
well as those of you in Science & Technology institutions
– is to provide a big enough canvas to our researchers right here
in India. We should further improve the environment for research
and development in India. I am told that much improvement has
taken place in recent years, especially in areas such as information
technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. But we need to
accomplish much more.
The Bhatnagar prize
is a national honour. But your ambition should be to benchmark
your research with the best in the world and win prestigious international
honours. I am happy to see that this year, as many as seven Indians
have won the honours of getting elected to the US National Academies
of Science & Engineering.
What gladdens me
especially is the fact that, although five of them have won the
honours for work done in USA, the remaining two – Dr. Obaid Siddiqi
and Dr. Raghunath Mashelkar -- have done their entire work in
India. I would like to congratulate them heartily.
What does their success
mean? It means that you can indeed do world-class research in
our own laboratories in India, provided you dare to dream, and
provided your efforts match your dreams and your ambitions.
Apart from prestigious
international honours, the other criterion to judge the quality
of output of India’s S&T establishment is the number of research
papers published in reputed international journals. Perhaps this
is an area that has not received adequate attention.
There seems to be
an apparent disconnect between our proven technological capability
to harness existing knowledge and unsatisfactory contribution
to new knowledge. After all, India has made notable progress
in the past two decades in agriculture, space, nuclear energy
and several manufacturing sectors. However, this progress is not
matched by globally recognized original research in India.
It should be the
endeavour of our scientists and researchers in CSIR laboratories,
universities, IITs, ICMR, ICAR and other organizations to significantly
increase their output of globally recognized research papers.
As history tells
us, a nation can progress economically in the short term based
on ‘existing knowledge’, but such progress is not sustainable
in the long run – especially in today’s competitive conditions
-- in the absence of creation of ‘new knowledge’. Thus, we have
to be equally adept at both generating new knowledge and applying
it to our various national needs.
On this occasion
cannot help reiterate my concern over the declining interest in
science among students. In 1950s and ‘60’s, the best students
chose to go for science education. Today’s bright students seem
to be shying away from science. As a result, in few years’ time,
all our top research organizations would face a shortage of good
science graduates. This issue needs to be addressed effectively,
imaginatively and comprehensively. I am happy that Dr. Joshiji
has initiated several good measures in this regard, both in respect
of technology education and science education.
However, it is not
enough to attract the best and brightest students to science education.
It is equally important to create sufficient employment opportunities
for them in our country.
I would like the
S&T establishment, public and private sector industry, as
well as the concerned Government agencies to collectively address
this issue. Some international firms have started to set up their
R&D centers in India, employing large numbers of PhDs. This
trend can be broadened by actively encouraging location in India
of R&D activities of big and small corporations abroad. Our
aim should be to make India a global R&D hub.
We should also seek
the involvement of our diasporic community in this endeavour.
I am told that one of the issues that was discussed at the first
Pravasi Bharatiya Sammelan early this year was how to synergise
India’s scientific talent at home and abroad. I would like this
effort to be further strengthened.
I have always looked
forward to the Bhatnagar Awards function to share with you my
ideas on some of the priorities in India’s socio-economic development
and how the S&T establishment can help in meeting these challenges.
Today the Nation expects your valuable inputs in many critical
areas of development. For example, yesterday the Planning Commission
presented to me two excellent reports on promotion of bio-fuels
These subjects may
sound unglamorous to some, but both have an immense potential
to generate productive employment, help millions of artisans and
farmers to be liberated from poverty, achieve significant import
substitution and earn considerable export revenue. To achieve
these goals, we need critical R&D inputs from agriculture
scientists, energy scientists, and technologists of various disciplines.
Let me mention another
issue of overriding national importance – namely, water conservation.
India is blessed by nature with bountiful water – it is amongst
the ‘wettest’ countries in the world, yet ‘desert-like’ conditions
are now prevalent in many parts of the country. We are fast plunging
into a water-emergency era.
Although many parts
of India have received timely rains this year, I have appealed
to all our citizens and all institutional users of water to conserve
every drop of available water. Among other things, this requires
low-cost water-saving, water-recycling, and water treatment technologies.
Our kisans need to know effective techniques of recharging the
sources of ground water.
Thus you, my scientist
friends, have a great responsibility to contribute to making India
‘water secure’. Let us remember that ‘Water sustains life; and
it is now our duty to sustain all sources of water’.
I have given only
a few illustrative examples. But they show how scientists and
technologists can become crucial partners in the Nation’s development
efforts. You are already playing this role in diverse fields,
and I commend you for your valuable contribution. But a much bigger
challenge awaits you. I have full confidence in your ability as
well as in your readiness to meet this challenge.
Once again my congratulations
to Bhatnagar prize winners.