There is more appreciation of Science and Technology after Covid-19, says Infosys co-founder
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November 11, 2022 08:44 pm | Updated November 12, 2022 11:49 am IST

Kris Gopalakrishnan

Kris Gopalakrishnan | Photo Credit: File photo

Kris Gopalakrishnan, co-founder of Infosys and president of Infosys Science Foundation, spoke to The Hindu ahead of announcing the winners of the 14th Infosys Prize. The Infosys Prize award is given annually to honour outstanding achievements of contemporary researchers and scientists across different categories.

Q / The Covid-19 pandemic has generated a lot of interest in the areas of science, technology, and research among the common public. Is science finally getting its due in India?

A / There is more appreciation of science and technology after COVID. Vaccines, ability to work remotely using the internet, ventilators, forecasting the progress of the virus, understanding the mutations of the virus, etc. are all because of advances in science and technology. India’s unique role in its ability to create affordable technology solutions is being appreciated by the world. The IT Services industry transitioned overnight to work from home and the impact on the global economy and business was minimal.

Q / You have been advocating the need to raise the level of funding in science and research in the country. Yet there has been no significant increase in the level of funding. What must be done to address this?

A / This requires a cultural and mindset change. Indian industry is currently investing in internal R&D or repurposing products which have worked elsewhere. Research is happening with academia, but we could do a lot more. Similarly, philanthropy focuses more on helping people and causes needing support today. Research looks at finding solutions to problems in the future. Research has an element of uncertainty since solutions are not guaranteed.

A / We need to convince people and businesses that equal focus must be given to supporting research. Research also creates IP which can be commercialized and can grow the economy faster.

Q / Isn’t science and research in India confined to the big cities? What should be done to take science and research in Tier-II and Tier-III cities?

A / Science & research is confined to Tier-II academic and research organisations. So, it depends on where these organisations are located. Some of these are not in Tier-I cities. Having said this, commercialisation of research happens mainly in Tier-I cities like Bengaluru, Delhi, Mumbai etc. These places are magnets for attracting venture funding and people.

Q / What role can science play in solving climate change and other issues?

A / Technology and innovation play a key role in creating new solutions to problems the world is facing. Alternate fuels and energy sources, energy efficient buildings and better energy distribution and use are solutions from science.

Q / What can we expect from the 14th Infosys Prize? Is there anything new this time around?

A / We have to wait for the announcement of the laureates. Every year we are excited to present the scientists and engineers who have further enhanced their fields by creating new knowledge and solutions. Each one of them will have an impact in future. They will inspire a new generation of students to pursue science.

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