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Government of India
Prime Minister's Office
03-January-2016 11:57 IST
Text of PM’s inaugural address at 103rd session of Indian Science Congress

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today delivered the inaugural address at the 103rd Indian Science Congress at the University of Mysore. The theme of this year’s Congress is “Science and Technology for Indigenous Development in India.”

The Prime Minister released the 103rd ISC Plenary Proceedings, and the Technology Vision 2035 document. He gave away the ISCA Awards for 2015-16.

Following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address:

Governor of Karnataka Shri Vajubhai Vala
Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri Siddaramaiah
My cabinet colleagues, Dr Harsh Vardhan and Shri Y.S.Chowdary
Bharat Ratna Professor C.N.R. Rao
Prof A.K.Saxena;
Prof. K.S. Rangappa,
Nobel Laureates and Field Medalist
Distinguished scientists and delegates,

It is a great pleasure to begin the year in the company of leaders of science and technology from India and the world.

For our confidence about the future of India comes from our faith in you.

It is a huge honour and privilege to address the 103rd Science Congress in the centenary year of the University of Mysore.

Some of the tallest leaders of India have passed through the doors of this respected institution.

The great philosopher and India’s second President Dr. Radhakrishnan and Bharat Ratna Professor CNR Rao are among them.

The history of the Science Congress and the University of Mysore began around the same time.

It was the time of a new awakening in India. It sought not just freedom, but also human advancement in India.

It wanted not just an independent India, but an India that could stand independently on the strength of its human resources, scientific capabilities and industrial development.

This university is a testimony to the vision of a great generation of Indians.

Now, we have launched yet another revolution of empowerment and opportunities in India.

And, we are once again turning to our scientists and innovators to realize our goals of human welfare and economic development.

The world has progressed because of human instinct to enquire and explore for knowledge but also to address human challenges.

No one reflected this spirit more than late President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.

His was a life of outstanding scientific achievements; and, his was a heart of boundless compassion and concern for humanity.

For him, the highest purpose of science was the transformation of the life of the weak, the under-privileged and the youth.

And, his life’s mission was a self-reliant and a self-assured India that was strong and cared for its people.

Your theme for this Congress is a fitting tribute to his vision.

And, it is leaders like Professor Rao and President Kalam, and scientists like you, who have placed India at the forefront of science and technology in many areas.

Our success spans from the core of the tiny atom to the vast frontier of space. We have enhanced food and health security; and, we have given hope for a better life to others in the world.

As we increase the level of our ambition for our people, we will also have to increase the scale of our efforts.

So, for me, good governance is not just about policy and decision making, transparency and accountability. It is also about integrating science and technology into the choices we make and the strategies we pursue.

Our digital networks are expanding the quality and reach of public services and social benefits for the poor. And, in the first ever National Space Conference, we identified 170 applications that touch almost every aspect of governance, development and conservation.

We are launching Startup India that will encourage innovation and enterprise. We are creating technology incubators in academic institutions. And, I have asked for a framework of Scientific Audit for scientific departments and institutions in the government.

It is with the same spirit of cooperative federalism that is shaping centre-state relations in every area, that I am encouraging greater scientific collaboration between Central and State institutions and agencies.

We will also try to increase the level of resources for science, and deploy them in accordance with our strategic priorities,

We will make it easier to do science and research in India, improve science administration, and expand the supply and improve the quality of science education and research in India.

At the same time, innovation must not be just the goal of our science. Innovation must also drive the scientific process. Frugal innovation and crowd sourcing are examples of efficient and effective scientific enterprise.

And, innovation in approach is not just the obligation of the government, but also the responsibility of the private sector and the academia.

In a world of resource constraints and competing claims, we have to be smart in defining our priorities. And, it is especially important in India, where challenges are many and the scale is enormous – from health and hunger to energy and economy.

Distinguished delegates,

Today, I wanted to speak to you about one of the biggest challenges for the world, and one that dominated global attention last year –to define a path to a more prosperous future for our world and a more sustainable future for our planet.

In 2015, the world took two historic steps.

Last September, the United Nations adopted the Development Agenda for 2030. It places elimination of poverty by the end of 2030 and economic development at the top of our priorities, but with equal emphasis on sustainability of our environment and our habitats.

And, last November in Paris, the world came together to craft a historic agreement to change the course of our planet.

But, we achieved something else that is equally important.

We succeeded in bringing innovation and technology to the heart of the climate change discourse.

We were consistent in our message that it is not enough to speak of targets and restraints. It is essential to find solutions that help us transition easily to a future of clean energy.

I also said in Paris that innovation is important not just for combating climate change, but also for climate justice. For, the developed world must leave enough of the little carbon space left for developing countries to grow.

For this, we need research and innovation to make clean energy technology available, accessible and affordable for all.

At Paris, President Hollande, President Obama and I joined a number of global leaders for an Innovation Summit.

We pledged to double national investments in innovation; and, build a global partnership that combines the responsibility of governments with the innovative capacity of the private sector.

I also suggested an international network of 30-40 universities and labs focusing for next ten years on transforming the way we produce, distribute and consume energy. We will also pursue this in G 20.

We need innovation to make renewable energy much cheaper; more reliable; and, easier to connect to transmission grids.

This is especially critical for India to achieve our target of adding 175 GW of renewable generation by 2022.

We must also make fossil fuel like coal cleaner and more efficient. And, we should tap newer sources of renewable energy, from ocean waves to geothermal energy.

At a time when energy sources that fueled the industrial age have put our planet in peril, and, as the developing world now seeks to lift billions of people into prosperity, the world must turn to Sun to power our future.

So, at Paris, India launched an International Solar Alliance to forge a partnership between solar-rich countries.

We need science and technology not just to make clean energy an integral part of our existence, but also to combat the impact of climate change on our lives.

We have to develop climate resilient agriculture. We must understand the impact of climate change on our weather, biodiversity, glaciers, and oceans; and, how to adjust to them. We must strengthen our ability to forecast natural disasters.

Distinguished delegates,

We must also address the rising challenges of rapid urbanisation. This will be critical for a sustainable world.

For the first time in human history, we are in an urban century. By the middle of this century, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities. A little less than 3.0 billion people will join the existing 3.5 billion urban dwellers. And, 90% of the increase will come from developing countries.

Many urban clusters in Asia will exceed the population of mid-sized countries elsewhere in the world.

More than 50% of India will be living in urban habitats by 2050. And, by 2025, India may already have more than 10% of the global urban population.

Studies suggest that nearly 40% of the global urban population lives in informal settlements, or slums, where they face a range of health and nutritional challenges.

Cities are the major engines of economic growth, employment opportunities and prosperity.

But, cities account for more than two-thirds of global energy demand and result in up to 80% of global greenhouse gas emission.

That is why I have placed so much emphasis on smart cities.

It is not just about cities that are networked to become more efficient, safe and better in delivery of services. It is also a vision of sustainable cities that are both locomotives of our economies and havens of healthy living.

We will need sound policies to achieve our goals, but we will rely on science and technology to provide creative solutions.

We must develop better scientific tools to improve city planning with sensitivity to local ecology and heritage; and, reduce the demand for transportation, improve mobility and reduce congestion.

Much of our urban infrastructure is yet to be built. We must maximise the use of local material with scientific improvements; and, and make buildings more energy efficient.

We have to find affordable and practical solutions for solid waste management; converting waste into building material and energy; and, recycling waste water.

Urban agriculture and ecology should get more attention. And, our children must breathe cleaner city air. And, we need solutions that are comprehensive and rooted in science and innovation.

We need your inputs to make our cities more immune to the consequences of natural disasters and our homes more resilient. This will also mean making retrofit of buildings affordable.

Distinguished delegates,

A sustainable future for this planet will depend not only on what we do on land, but also on how we treat our oceans.

Oceans occupy more than 70% of our planet; and, over 40% of humanity and 60% of the world’s largest cities are found within 100 kilometers of the coast.

We are at the cusp of a new era, where oceans will become important drivers of our economies. Their sustainable use can bring prosperity; and, give us clean energy, new medicines and food security beyond just fisheries.

That is why I refer to the Small Island States as Large Ocean States.

Ocean is critical to India’s future, too, with over 1300 islands, a 7500 km coastline and 2.4 million square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone.

That is why, in the past year, we have increased our focus on ocean or blue economy. We will raise the level of our scientific efforts in marine science.

We will set up an advanced centre of research in marine biology and biotechnology and establish a network of coastal and island research stations in India and abroad.

We have entered into agreements on marine science and ocean economy with several countries. We will also hold an International Conference on “Ocean economy and Pacific Island Countries” in New Delhi in 2016.

Distinguished delegates,

Rivers have played as important a role in human history as oceans. Civilisations have been nurtured by rivers. And, rivers will remain critical for our future.

So, revival of rivers is an essential part of my commitment for a cleaner and healthier future for our society, economic opportunities for our people, and renewal of our heritage.

We need regulations, policy, investments and management to achieve our objective. But, we will succeed only when we integrate technology, engineering and innovation into our efforts, not just to clean our rivers now but to keep them healthy in the future as well.

For this, we also need scientific understanding of the impact of urbanisation, farming, industrialisation and groundwater use and contamination on the river eco-system.

River is the soul of Nature. Their renewal must be an element of a larger effort to sustain Nature.

In India, we see humanity as part of Nature, not outside or superior to it, and divinity manifested in Nature's diverse forms.

So, conservation is rooted in the natural instincts of our culture and tradition, and in our commitment to the future.

India has a rich heritage of ecological knowledge. We have scientific institutions and human resources to mount concerted national action on conservation of Nature that is rooted firmly in scientific studies and methods.

Distinguished delegates,

And, if we wish to restore the harmony between human and Nature, we must also harness the full potential of traditional knowledge.

Societies across the world have developed this enormous wealth through wisdom gathered over the ages.

And, they hold the secrets to economic, efficient, and, environment friendly solutions to many of our problems.

But, today they are at risk of extinction in our globalised world.

Like traditional knowledge, science has also evolved through human experiences and exploration of Nature. So, we must recognize that science, as we see it, does not constitute the only form of empirical knowledge about the world.

And, we must bridge the distance between traditional knowledge and modern science, so that we can craft local and more sustainable solutions for our challenges.

So, in agriculture, even as we seek to make our farms yield more, reduce the intensity of our water use, or increase the nutrient content of our farm output,

we should also integrate traditional techniques, local practices and organic farming to make our agriculture less resource intensive and more resilient.

And, in the area of health, modern medicines have transformed healthcare. But, we must also use scientific techniques and methods to delve deeper into traditional medicines and practices like Yoga for more holistic lifestyle and change our paradigm from treatment to wellness.

This is especially important in dealing with growing challenge of lifestyle diseases that take a huge toll in terms of human lives and economic costs.

Distinguished delegates,

As a nation we still inhabit many worlds.

We are at the global frontiers of achievements in science and technology.

We also see the uncertainty and despair of many living at the edge of existence, looking for a life of hope, opportunity, dignity and equity.

We must meet these aspirations at a speed and on a scale that is rare in human history.

And, from the richness of our tradition, the consciousness of our age and the strength of our commitment to our world, we must choose the most sustainable path possible.

The success of one-sixth of humanity will also mean a more prosperous and a sustainable future for the world.

We can only do this with your leadership and support.

We will realise it when, in the words of Vikram Sarabhai, “we encourage scientists to interest themselves in problems outside their fields of specialization.”

And, the impact of science will be the most when scientists and technologists will keep the principles of what I call Five Es at the centre of their enquiry and engineering:

Economy – when we find cost effective and efficient solutions

Environment – when our carbon footprint is the lightest and the impact on the ecology is the least possible

Energy – when our prosperity relies less on energy; and the energy we use keeps our skies blue and our earth green.

Empathy – when our efforts are in tune with our culture, circumstances and social challenges.

Equity – when science advances inclusive development and improves the welfare of the weakest.

This year we mark a hundred years of a significant moment in the history of science, when Albert Einstein published in 1916 “The Foundation of the General Theory of Relativity”. Today, we must recall the humanism that defined his thought: “Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavours. “

Nothing can be a higher duty for us, whether we are in public life, or we are private citizens, and whether we are in business or explore science, than to leave the planet in a better state for our future generations.

Let the different disciplines of science, technology and engineering unite behind this common purpose.

Thank you.