Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan feels that science can be used to eradicate irrational practices

Expressing concern over the high rate of superstitious beliefs prevalent in the country, Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan felt that science can be used to eradicate irrational practices. Calling superstitious beliefs as dangerous, he drew a comparison between the Western world and India on this issue.

“In the West too, there are superstitious beliefs but India has a major share of superstitions. For instance, a politician from the West may consult an astrologer over his political future but will be embarrassed if it comes out in the public. However, in India, we see political leaders openly following many such practices,” he pointed out. The renowned microbiologist, also fondly called Venki, participated in an informal interaction with the public at an event organised by Jana Vignana Vedika (JVV) on Saturday.

Nobel mania

Reacting to a question on why many Indian scientists fail to receive the coveted Nobel prize, he observed that Indians think of Nobel prize as a celebrity status. “Many do not even know what Nobel prize is all about. There are many good Indian scientists and it does not matter if they receive the Nobel or not,” he pointed out.

Unsung hero

In this context, he cited the example of Sambhu Nath De who had contributed significantly to the understanding of cholera but did not win a Nobel.

“A scientist should first have a thirst for learning and research,” he said and called upon everyone irrespective of age to keep the curiosity element alive in them.

Earlier, while delivering the G.P. Birla Distinguished lecture on ‘Antibiotics and the cell protein factory’ at B.M. Birla Science Centre, he said many Indian scientists were popular in the West but in India, people recognise such scientists and their efforts only after they get awards in the West.

“Professor Ashok Sen is popular in the West but I doubt whether many people know about him here,” said the Nobel laureate. He once again emphasised the need to control anti-microbial resistance by surveillance through public health centre about infection and controlling such infection.

Applied research should be taken up on microbial pathogenesis, diagnosis, vaccines and development of new drugs and novel therapies.

He presented the 2012 B.M. Birla science prizes to G. Vaitheeswaran of University of Hyderabad, Dr. Vikas Kumar Dubey of Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati, and Dr. Ganesh Nagaraju of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. JNTU Vice-Chancellor Professor Rameshwar Rao was the guest of honour.

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