Science must be harnessed in full: Manmohan

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ENCOURAGING RESEARCH: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, R. A. Mashelkar, DG, CSIR and Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal with the winners of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes. Photo: V.V. Krishnan
ENCOURAGING RESEARCH: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, R. A. Mashelkar, DG, CSIR and Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal with the winners of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes. Photo: V.V. Krishnan

Special Correspondent

Presents CSIR's Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes for 2006 to 13 scientists

  • `Best scientific minds in India could be inspired to tackle basic societal challenges'
  • `We have to promote technology-led accelerated inclusive growth'

    NEW DELHI: Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh on Tuesday rejected the view that expansion of scientific infrastructure and promotion of social inclusion in scientific institutions would run counter to the objective of encouraging excellence in science and technology.

    ``It might appear that expansion, inclusion and excellence are mutually contradictory objectives. I do not think so. With determination and with some innovation, I am sure we can harmonise these objectives,'' he said.

    Presenting the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)'s Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes for excellence in science and technology for 2006, he stressed that there was a need for a judicious balancing of expansion, inclusion and excellence, in the context of the need to enhance the supply of skilled scientists and technologists.

    "Numbers, first issue"

    ``Numbers are the first issue. I understand that we have only 157 scientists and engineers per million people involved in research and development. Korea had 50 times more and the United States and Japan over 30 times more. Quality and output are another issue. In 10 years, China has overtaken India in the number of scientific research papers published in internationally peer-reviewed journals. In fact, they publish three times our number,'' he said.

    Dr. Singh emphasised the need to find ways by which the best scientific minds could be inspired to tackle basic societal challenges. Science and technology had an enormous potential to meet the basic needs of people.

    Determined efforts needed to be made to harness the potential in full measure.

    He also stressed the need to explore mechanisms for coordinated international efforts to address common technological issues and to find ways to sustain adequate incentives for generation of new knowledge and simultaneously make the fruits of the knowledge available to the poor at affordable prices.

    The international system for protection of intellectual property rights must be sensitive to these concerns. The time was ripe to evolve concerted strategies to make globalisation and the knowledge revolution that was propelling it a win-win situation for the entire humankind. India ought to be in the forefront of international efforts to find a meaningful solution to the global concerns.

    Dr. Singh presented the prizes to 13 scientists Virender Singh Sangwan of the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad, for medical sciences; Srinivasan Sampath of Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and K George Thomas of the Regional Research Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram, for chemical sciences; Vikraman Balaji of the Chennai Mathematical Institute, Siruseri, and Indranil Biswas of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, for mathematical sciences; Vinod Bhakuni, Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, and Rajesh Sudhir Gokhale, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi, for biological sciences; Gufran-ullah Beig, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, and Pulak Sengupta, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, for earth, atmosphere, ocean and planetary Sciences; Atish Dabholkar, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and Sanjay Puri, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, for physical sciences; and Ashish Lele, National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, and Sanjay Mittal, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, for engineering sciences.

    Dr. Singh also presented the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award to Tejas Networks India Limited of Bangalore for developing next generation optical networking products and their successful commercialisation and the CSIR award for S&T innovations for rural development to the CSIR's Chennai-based Central Leather Research Institute.

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