Strong academic institutions vital for India’s progress: DRDO chief

The country can prosper only through science and technology and for it to happen, we need qualitative academic institutions to take up research in fundamental science, which in turn would propel technological innovations, said Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman G. Sateesh Reddy here on Monday.

“Other than western countries, countries like Japan and Israel became economically prosperous owing to technological growth and innovations. Research in basic science ushers in applied research and it has to begin at schools and universities. Countries with a good science and technology base have strong academic institutions,” he said.

Dr. Reddy was addressing a gathering of scientists and students at B.M. Birla Science Centre after receiving the Birla Archaeological and Cultural Research Institute (BACRI) Golden Jubilee Award for lifetime achievement in science from Nirmala Birla, chairperson of the Centre.

The DRDO chief regretted that not a single academic institution from India figured in the global top 100 and hoped that the recent initiatives by the Government of India such as Atal Innovation Mission and other schemes would equip schools and colleges to focus on scientific research to inspire young minds.

The New Education Policy (NEP), which is at the drafting stage, is expected to give a big push to science and technology so that extensive research in various disciplines could be taken up. There has been a spurt in start-ups and several innovations in scientific fields and he expects these to increase further in the next few years.

“We need to have a vision for the next five-15 years to start preparing for advanced scientific research as Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam had done in the strategic arena when he simultaneously took up manufacture of several missiles, new lab like Research Centre Imarat, missile launch facility at Balasore, ballistic missile, missile shield and so on,” said Dr. Reddy, also the Secretary of Defence (R&D).

India has done well in space research, atomic energy and defence production by attaining self-reliance in satellite launch vehicles, sonors, torpedoes, radars, artillery guns and anti-sat missile. “However, it is a second largest importer of arms in the world, so a lot has to be done,” he added.

“You have to be a technology leader and not a follower by coming out with state-of-the-art technological innovations to become strong. Research and development need not be in the government sector alone and we need at least 10 academic institutions to be among the top 100 globally,” he said.

Birla Science Centre Director B.G. Sidharth also spoke on the occasion.

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