Text of PM’s address at the inauguration of the 105th Indian Science Congress in Manipur

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Here is text of Prime Minister’s address at the inauguration of the 105th Indian Science Congress in Manipur: 

Governor of Manipur, Dr. Najma Heptullah,

Chief Minister of Manipur, Shri N. Biren Singh,

My ministerial colleague, Dr. Harsh Vardhan,

Other distinguished dignitaries on the dais,

Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me begin by paying my rich tributes to three very distinguished Indian scientists whom we lost in recent times – Padma Vibhushan Prof Yashpal, Padma Vibhushan Prof UR Rao and Padma Shri DrBaldev Raj. They all made out-standing contributions to Indian science and education.

Let us also join the world to mourn the death of one of the greatest physicists of our time,Stephen Hawking – one of the brightest stars of modern cosmology.He was a friend of India and had visited our country twice.The common man knows Hawking’s name,not because of his work on black holes, but because of his unusually high commitmentand spirit against all odds.He will be remembered as one of the world’s greatest motivators of all time.

Friends,

I am happy to be here in Imphal today,on the occasion of the one hundred and fifth session of the Indian Science Congress.I am delighted to be among scientists, whose work paves the way for a better tomorrow.I am also pleased to see Manipur University hosting this important event.The University is emerging as an important center of higher educationin the North-East. I am told, that this is just the second time in over a century,that the Indian Science Congress is being held in the North-East.This is a testimony to the resurgent spirit of the North East.

It bodeswell for the future.Science has been synonymous with progress and prosperityfrom time immemorial. As the best scientific minds of our nation,all of you gathered here todayare power-houses of knowledge, innovation and enterprise, and are best equipped to drive this change.

The time is ripe to redefine ‘R&D’ as ‘Research’ for the ‘Development’ of the nation – that is ‘R&D’ in the real sense.Science is after all,but a means to a far greater end – of making a difference in the lives of others,of furthering human progress and welfare.The time is also ripe, to commit ourselves to facilitate ‘Ease of Living’ for 125 crore Indians,through the power as well as potential of science and technology.

I stand here today, in this brave land of Manipur, where in April 1944 NetajiSubhas Chandra Bose’s INA gave the clarion call for freedom.When you leave Manipur,I am sure you will also carry the same spirit of dedication to do something ever-lasting for our nation. I am also sure you will continue to work closely with the scientists you have met here.

After all, effective solutionsto big problems of science and technology,also require close cooperationand coordination among scientists across diverse streams.The Union Governmenthas initiated several new programs for the North-Eastern States,in the area of science. Agro-Meteorological Services are being provided under the ग्रामीण कृषि मौसम सेवा.This is benefiting over five lakh farmers. We are now working to expand this network to all districts of the North-East.Several new centers are bringing relevant science and technology to the North-East. An Ethno Medicinal Research Centre has been set up in Manipur. This will undertake research on the wild herbs available in the North Eastern region,which have unique medicinal and aromatic properties.

State Climate Change Centres have been set up in seven North-Eastern States. They will undertake risk analysis, and raise public awareness about climate change.We have freed “bamboo” from being treated as a ‘Tree’ species, and classified it as a “Grass,” which it scientifically is. For this, we changed a decades old law. This amendment will allow for the free movement of bamboo. It will ensure that the production and consumption centers are seamlessly integrated. It will make farmers realize the true potential from the entire value chainin the bamboo ecosystem.Government is also revamping the National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs. 1200 crore. States like Manipur will benefit from this decision.

Friends,

The Indian Science Congress has a rich legacy. It has been led by some of India’s tallest scientists, such as Acharya J.C. Bose, C.V. Raman, Meghnad Saha and S.N. Bose. New India, should seek inspiration from the high standards of excellence, set by these great scientists.During our interactions on various occasions, I have exhorted our scientists to seek solutions to our socio-economic problems. I have urged them to take up new challenges to benefit the poor and deprived sections of society.

In this context, the theme chosen for the Indian Science Congress this year, is quite appropriate: Reaching the Unreached through Science and Technology. The theme is very close to my heart.

Take the case of Rajagopalan Vasudevan recognized with a Padma Shri in 2018. He is a professor from Madurai who developed and patented an innovative method to reuse plastic waste in the construction of roads.The roads made using this method are more durable,water resistant and load bearing. At the same time he has found a constructive use for the ballooning problem of plastic waste. Professor Vasudevan has given this technology to the Government for free.This technology has already been used to lay over 5,000 kilometers of roads across 11 states.

Similarly, Arvind Gupta has been recognized with a Padma Shri in 2018,for inspiring generations of students to learn Science from Trash by using household materials and garbage to make toys for scientific experiments. Chintakindi Mallesham was given a Padma Shri in 2017, for inventing the Laxmi ASU Machine which significantly reduced the time and labour required to weave Sarees. I therefore urge you to direct your research and innovation towards solving the problems of our times and meeting the aspirations of our people. Scientific Social Responsibility is the need of the hour.

Friends,

The Session’s theme also raises some questions.Have we done enough to ensure that children in India are sufficiently exposed to science? Are we giving them a conducive environment to develop their inherent talent? Our scientific achievements need to be actively communicated to the society. This will help inculcate scientific temper among the youth. It will also excite and attract our young minds to careers in science. We have to throw open our national institutions and laboratories to our children. I call upon scientists to develop an appropriate mechanism for interaction with school-going children. I also urge them, to spend 100 hours every year, with 100 students of Classes 10,11 and 12 discussing various aspects of science and technology. 100 hours and 100 students, imagine how many scientists we can nurture this way!

Friends,

We are committed to increasing the share of non-fossil fuel based capacity in the electricity mix above 40 per cent by 2030. India is a leader in the multi-country International Solar Alliance and in Mission Innovation. These groupings are providing a thrust to R&D for clean energy. The Department of Atomic Energy is setting up ten new domestic Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors of 700 Mega Watt capacity each. This is a major boost to the domestic nuclear industry. It strengthens India’s credentials as a major nuclear manufacturing nation. In recent times, CSIR has developed a hand-held milk tester, which helps every family to test quality of milk within seconds. CSIR has also achieved breakthroughs in developing diagnostic kits for rare genetic diseases and high value aromatic and medicinal plants used by farmers to increase their income.

We are making concerted efforts to achieve complete elimination of TB from India. A few days ago, at the ‘End TB Summit’ in New Delhi, we demonstrated our commitment to eliminate TB from India by 2025, five years ahead of the WHO target of 2030. Our space research program has the capacity to successfully place over one hundred satellites in space in one go.This has been made possible through the hard work and dedication of Indian Scientists.

After the success of Chandrayan-1 we plan to launch Chandrayan-2 in the coming months.This fully indigenous effort will include landing and travel on the surface of the moon by a rover. The greatest scientist of the last century, Albert Einstein had given the theory about gravitational waves. It is a matter of immense pride for all of us that 37 Indian scientists from nine Indian institutions participated in the international Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) Collaboration and proved this theory correct three years ago.Our Government has already given approval to establish third LIGO detector in the country. It will expand our knowledge in basic Sciences in the areas of lasers, light waves, and computing. I am told that our scientists are tirelessly working towards making this a reality. I have talked about developing Clusters of Excellence in Science in Cities, around important Scientific Institutions.The objective is to create city-based R&D Clusters, which will bring together all Science and Technology partners, from Academia to Institutes, to Industries to Startups.This will help promote new discoveries, and create globally competitive vibrant research hubs.

We have recently approved a new “Prime Minister’s Research Fellows” scheme.Under this Scheme, bright minds from the best Institutions in the country,namely, IISc, IIT, NIT, IISER and IIIT will be offered direct admission in Ph.D. Programme in IIT and IISc. This scheme will help address the brain-drain from our country. It will go a long way in promoting indigenous research in cutting-edge Science and Technology domains.

Friends,

India faces major socio-economic challenges which affect large sections of our population. We need science and technology to help us make India clean, green and prosperous. Let me re-iterate some of my expectations from scientists. A large section of our tribal population is affected by सिकलसेलअनीमिया. Can our Scientists come up with a simple, cost-effective solution to this problem in the near future. A large proportion of our children are affected by malnutrition. To address this problem, the Government of India has launched the National Nutrition Mission. Your suggestions and solutions can help us meet the objectives of the Mission.

India requires crores of new houses.Can our scientists adopt 3D printing technology to help us meet this demand? Our rivers are polluted. It requires your innovative ideas and new technologies to clean them. We need a multi-pronged approach including efficient solar and wind power, energy storage and electric mobility solutions, clean cooking, conversion of coal to clean fuels like methanol, cleaner power from coal, smart grids, micro-grids and bio-fuels.

We have set a target of having 100 Giga Wattsof installed solar power by 2022. Efficiency of solar modules currently available in the market is around 17% to 18%.Can our scientists take a challenge to come up with a more efficient solar module, which can be produced in India at the same cost? Imagine the resources we will be saving on this account. ISRO uses one of the best battery systems to run satellites in space.Other institutions can partner with ISRO to develop cost effective and efficient battery systems for mobile phones and electric cars.We need to develop new procedures,medicines,and vaccines to get rid of silent killers like Malaria and Japanese Encephalitis.Research should also be conducted in Yoga, sports, and traditional knowledge disciplines. Small and medium scale industry units have been the main-stay for employment generation.With global competition, they are facing increasing challenges.Can our scientific and technological institutions take up the cause of the MSME sectorand assist these unitsin improving processes and products?

Friends,

We have to be future ready in implementing technologies vital for the growth and prosperity of the nation. Technology will allow far greater penetration of services such as education, healthcare, and banking to our citizens.India should become a major player in developing technologies,devices,standards and manufacturing for 5-G broadband tele-communication networks by 2020. Together with Artificial Intelligence,Big Data Analytics, Machine Learning and cyber-physical systems,effective communication will be a major ingredient in our success in smart manufacturing, smart cities, and Industry 4.0.Let us aim for India to be among the top 10 countries in the Global Innovation Index by 2030.

Friends,

Four years from now,we will be celebrating the 75th year of our Independence.We have collectively resolvedto build a New India by 2022.We need to work towards shared prosperity,in the spirit of सबकासाथ, सबकाविकास.This goal requires whole-hearted contribution from each one of you. The Indian economy is on a high growth trajectory.But we rank low in Human Development Indicators. One of the important reasons for this in-consistency is major inter-state and intra-state disparity.To address this,we have launched a concerted effort to improve the performance of over 100 Aspirational Districts.We shall focus on important sectorssuch as Health and Nutrition;Education;Agriculture and Water Resources; Financial Inclusion; Skill Development; and Basic Infrastructure.All these sectorsrequire innovative solutions, which cater to local challenges and requirements.The “one size fits all” approachcannot work in this case.Can our Scientific Institutionsserve these Aspirational Districts? Can they catalyze creation and diffusion of appropriate technologies that generate skills and entrepreneur-ship?

This would be a great service to Mother India. India has a rich traditionand a long history of both discovery and use science and technology. It is time to reclaim our rightful place among the front-line nations in this field. I call upon the scientific community to extend its research from the labs, to the land. I am confident that through the dedicated efforts of our scientists, we are embarking on the road to a better future. The future we wish for ourselves,and for our children.

Thank You.

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