Kasturirangan for removing barrier between science and societal issues

HONOUR: K.Kasturirangan, director, National Institute for Advanced Studies, conferring the doctorate on M.Annadurai,Project Director,Chandrayan-1, at the convocation of the MGR Educational and Research Institute University in Chennai on Saturday. A.C.Shanmugam, Chancellor of the university, and Andrew T.Simkin,U.S. Consul General, Chennai (right), are in the picture.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K. Pichumani

Special Correspondent

Science and technology institutions must have access to information on social needs

CHENNAI: The traditional separation between science and technology and societal issues such as social development is no longer acceptable, K. Kasturirangan, director, National Institute of Advanced Studies, has said.

In his convocation address at Dr MGR Educational and Research Institute, the former ISRO chairman pointed to the fundamental role played by science and technology in the creation of wealth and economic growth and the improvement in the quality of life for all citizens. He argued that science and technology institutions must have access to information on social needs, so that research on related issues could be encouraged.

Referring to the ongoing national debate on revamping the science education, which would sooner or later impact the engineering, medical and professional education, Mr. Kasturirangan said: “Our problem is not one of the quantity, like some other countries, but of quality.”

He cited a recent study to express his unhappiness over the rigid bifurcation insisted upon at the first professional science degree course (BSc).

“An extreme of this compartmentalised education is the introduction of courses such as biotechnology, genetics and bioinformatics. In most of these programmes, students hardly learn the basic science and thus remain incompetent for basic as well as technological applications.”

Chandrayan-I project director M. Annadurai, who was honoured with Doctor of Science, said that if the landing of Neil Armstrong ignited the minds of the American youth, the launch of Chandrayan kindled the spirit of the Indian youth. More than the college students, it was the school students who were very much inspired by the launch.

Reacting to Andrew T. Simkin, U.S. Consul General, who said the United States would welcome Indian students to pursue higher education, Mr. Annadurai said Indian students had a lot of opportunities here.

Tennis player Sania Mirza, who was to receive the honorary Doctor of Letters, did not turn up. She had sent a message, expressing her inability to attend the convocation.

Chancellor A.C. Shanmugam, Vice-Chancellor M.K. Padmanabhan and Pro-Chancellor ACS Arunkumar participated.