‘Give a boost to R&D, science’

Former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah receiving an honorary doctorate at the Rani Chennamma University convocation in Belgaum on Saturday.— PHOTO: D.B. PATIL

Former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah receiving an honorary doctorate at the Rani Chennamma University convocation in Belgaum on Saturday.— PHOTO: D.B. PATIL  

At least 1 per cent of GDP should be spent on this: Venkatachaliah

The former Chief Justice of India M.N. Venkatachaliah has stressed the need to spend at least one per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year on research and development (R&D) and promotion of science.

He was speaking at the Rani Chennamma University (RCU) convocation, which was held on Visvesvaraya Technological University’s Jnana Sangama campus here on Saturday.

Universities are expected to be intellectual powerhouses to provide scientific, intellectual and technological backup for industrial and economic growth, Mr. Venkatachaliah said.


There are three imperatives that need to be met to ensure that India sustains its level as a “middle-income emerging market economy”.

First, 15 to 20 per cent of the population between 18 and 24 years of age must be in universities, which would require another 750 new universities. Where do we find eminent Vice-Chancellors, scientists and professors of calibre to man them?

Secondly, one per cent of the country’s GDP should be spent on R&D activities and the promotion of science. Lastly, private sector-led R&D must also spend one per cent of the GDP on the same purpose, which could account for Rs. 8,000 crore a year.

“All three limbs of this tripod are non-existent at present, which is a matter of concern,” he observed.


Mr. Venkatachaliah said the 21st century was poised to witness stunning changes. It would be a century of new biology, new medicine and technology, which would change the face of everything under the sun.

Only nations capable of handling these changes would survive, he added.

“Today, the world is divided not by ideology but technology. A small part of the world, comprising some 15 per cent of the global population, provides nearly all the technological innovations. Nearly half the global population adopts these innovations for production and consumption, while the remainder is technologically disconnected.”


When asked ‘can a legal system impose upon an individual the burden of personal sacrifice, so as to ensure opportunity to others?’ he quoted English judge Leslie Scarman: “‘It is a platitude that society must be just. But what, in the context of a plural society, do we mean by justice? Are we seeking justice as between groups? Or do we remain true to our western philosophy, that what ultimately matters is the right and duty of the individual human being, and that justice under the law’… as is inscribed over the portico of the U.S. Supreme Court building? Clearly we desire both justice as between groups and equal justice under the law for every one of us. The dilemma of a plural society is that it is not always possible to achieve both. How, then, does one regulate justly, the clash of interests between the group and the individual?” Mr. Venkatachaliah said.

“No one but an obstinate fanatic will assert that for the good of Indian society the corruptions that perpetuate defects should be preserved. Social institutions exist for man, not vice versa. Institutions which deny this fact of human nature either break down more or less violently, or else decay gradually into ineffectiveness. The great message in our Constitution is to achieve a social revolution without bloodshed. Unfortunately, we seem to have only bloodshed and no social revolution; a feudal society, grimly struggling to be reborn into an egalitarian, modern industrial society,” he added.

RCU Vice-Chancellor B.R. Ananthan welcomed the gathering and conferred honorary degrees on Mr. Venkatachaliah and nine others. Among those present were RCU Registrars Vishnukant Chatapalli and J.G. Naik (Evaluation).

‘This century is poised to witness change;

only nations capable of handling it can survive’

Social institutions exist for man, not vice

versa, says Venkatachaliah

Recommended for you