G. Madhavan Nair, former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has termed the launch of PSLV C15 as ‘a great success’ as it was the 16th consecutive successful launch of the vehicle.

“We will come to know of the functioning of the satellites by tomorrow,” he said while interacting with the academic community at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Technology (RIT), Pampady near here on Monday.

Dr. Nair said the vehicle carried five satellites including India’s remote sensing Cartosat 2B, Alsat from Algeria, two satellites from universities in Canada and Switzerland and one small satellite built by a consortium of colleges from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. “The presence of the pico satellite Studsat built by the consortium marks the entry of students into high technology, so far a realm of the ISRO and big commercial houses,” Dr. Nair said.

Speaking on ‘Technological Challenges for National Development’ on the occasion, Dr. Nair stressed the need for students to contribute to technology development within the country and called for a reorientation in the mindset which will help them to experiment, innovate and turn into entrepreneurs. Stressing the need for achieving self reliance in high technology, Dr. Nair said while we have proved our capability in areas like space science and nuclear science, in many other areas technology comes from developed nations and “our contribution is confined only to value addition”.

“Why go after technology from other countries? Indian talents have proved that when really challenged, they are capable of making cutting edge technologies,” Dr. Nair said. Exhorting the student community to take up science and technology as a career and go into the mode of acquisition of knowledge, he admitted that a distortion in the wage structure has forced young talents to move to fields like information technology.

The government has now taken a considered effort to invest in education, he said and added that developed countries are what they are today because of what they had invested in science and technology.

Four areas identified for attention

Dr. Nair identified the four major areas which immediate attention of science and technology for the nation to move into the faster lane of growth which would ensure social development, namely, food security, health security, energy security and education. “The key to successful bid in tackling the challenges lie with the development of the ability for lateral thinking and for looking at the problem from different angles,” Dr. Nair said.

To ensure food security it was imperative to develop new technologies to improve productivity through development of new crop varieties suitable to arid land conditions, with better resistance capability; technology to expand shelf life of products; genetically modified products to improve product mass and so forth, he said.

In the energy sector, the nation was being challenged by the increase in population and we will have to go in for a bouquet of alternate sources of energy including nuclear energy, solar energy and wind energy among others. The core to development of solar energy would be the development of more efficient storage system with longer life. Hydel energy too had great potential but “we will have to take a more pragmatic approach and shun the dogmatic one,” he said.

While tackling the health care challenges, the country will have to develop its own diagnostic techniques since most of the diagnostic equipment was being imported. The drug delivery system too has to go through a sea change and the country would have to go in for the development of nano materials, he said.

J.K. Kuncheira, principal, RIT, chaired the session. M.S. Jayamohan, M. Jalaja and T. Sasikumar also spoke on the occasion.

Keywords: PSLV C15ISRO