16 February 2011

THIRD CONVOCATION (February 16, 2011)



Hon'ble Minister of State, Government of India
Ministry of Science & Technology, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Ministry of Planning &Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

His Excellency, the Governor of Haryana and Chancellor of the University, Sh. Jagannath Pahadia Ji; Hon,ble Chief-Minister of Haryana, Ch. Bhupinder Singh Hooda Ji; Minister of Technical Education, Haryana, Sh. Mahender Partap Singh Ji;  Dr. M L Ranga, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Jambheshwar University of Science and Technology, Hisar, Members & Ex Members of Haryana Legislative Assembly, Vice-Chancellors of other universities of the State, Faculty members, students, distinguished guests, members of the Media, Ladies and Gentlemen.
2.    May I, at the outset congratulate the students who have received degrees today and have thus earned the privilege of joining the Alumni community of this University- an “A” Grade State Technical University accredited to NAAC.  I am told that this is the first University in theregion to have secured “A” grade from NAAC within seven years of its establishment.
3.    May I also thank the Chancellor, Vice Chancellor and the Registrar of Guru Jambeshwar University of Science and technology for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you today.  I would also like to compliment the dynamic Chief Minister of Haryana,Shri Bhupinder Hooda Ji for his continuous support, encouragement and personal commitment to encouraging the pursuit of excellence in scientific and technical education.
4.    Ladies and gentlemen, these are indeed momentous times for more reasons than one.  The transforming changes of globalization, liberalization and the unprecedented pace of technological advancement have ushered in profound and extraordinary changes that have fundamentally altered the way we live in a new world.  The demands of the second decade of this century pose daunting challenges for those involved in development policy and its implementation in pursuit of better standards of life in larger freedom for all our people.  In this endeavour, the need to acquire and harness scientific and technical knowledge is self evident. 
5.    We are indeed witnessing India’s transition to a regional economic power.  According to available data, at the beginning of the Eleventh Five Year Plan, per capita GDP in India was US $844 (Rs.37,980) while at the end of the Eleventh Plan it is expected to rise close to US $1,500(Rs.67,500). The size of the Indian economy at the beginning of the Eleventh Plan was less than $1 trillion (Rs.450 lac crore), while at the end of the Plan period it will be close to $1.8 trillion (Rs.81 lac crore). The medium term outlook is that by the end of 2025, the size of the Indian economy is likely to approach $10 trillion (Rs.45 lac crore)and per capita GDP may exceed $7,000 (Rs.3,15,000) thereby becoming the third largest economy in the world. Above all, we have managed to ensure high economic growth consistent with the imperatives of an inclusive development agenda to ensure that the fruits of development reach the marginalized segments of our society.  India’s pre-eminent role in the shaping of the new world order is now universally recognized.  Our country has emerged as a pillar of stability and democracy in Asia.  Together with China, the growth of our economy has ensured the revival of the global economy.
6.    While we need to maintain high economic growth we cannot be oblivious to the critical challenges of sustainable development, malnutrition pandemics, deprivation and the absence of health care etc.  Scientists are, therefore, naturally expected to play a larger role in meeting these challenges. We must find solutions that will enable people to satisfy basic needs at an affordable cost.  The S&T community must provide technological solutions to meet the challenges arising out of depleting natural resources on one hand and, on the other,to meet the aspirational goals of a young nation with a population of 1.2 billion (120 crores).  It is only through the harnessing of scientific and technological knowledge that we as a nation will be able to:
provide to our people an enabling environment for sustainable development;
become  a food surplus nation;
achieve“Nutrition Levels” at par with the global average;
make available affordable healthcare facilities;
deploy efficient water management technologies and to make potable water available to all;
create affordable shelter and sanitation facilities;
attain the status of an energy efficient nation;
become a leading knowledge hub with high level of S&T output 
emerge as an entrepreneur-centric country with larger technically qualified human resource base;

Therefore, in order to address the critical issue of unemployment amongst the youth and to create the required human resource pool to meet the demands of employability and the requisite skills, the government has formulated a plan to impart training and education in technical skills to 50 crore people by 2022. This herculean national endeavour would require a reorientation of the scientific and technical education and a more dynamic approach to vocational training.
The Government has decided to establish the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research as an institution of national importance, with powers to award degrees. The Bill to establish this institution is likely to be introduced in the ensuing Budget session of Parliament.
The enduring challenge of the scientific community in our country is to deploy their knowledge of technological and innovative capabilities in the service of the “unhappy dispossessed millions” who must always be at the centre of our concerns.
7.    I am happy to share with you the fact that S& T studies in India are seeing an upward trend. According to R&D statics of the Government of India, it is estimated that India had 140researchers in R&D per million population compared to 926 in China and 4651 in USA during 2005. The competitiveness of India in scientific publications as assessed by Thomson Reuters indicates positive trends. In recent times the annual growth rate of scholarly publications from India in prestigious scientific journals is estimated at about 12% as against the global average of 4%. If this trajectory continues, it is expected that India’s productivity in terms of the total number of publications will be at par with most G8 countries and may overtake them during the period 2015-2020. However, the global share of prestigious scientific publications in India is only 2.7%, whereas China generates close to three times this output.  There is, therefore, an urgent need to further incentivize S & T studies at various levels.
8.    Also, there has been a considerable increase in the number of patents filed and granted in India since 2004 (17466 in 2004-05 and 36,812 in 2008-09).  However, the number of patents filed in India for R&D work done outside the country is far larger (Approx. 83%) than for those emanating from the R&D work done in India (Approx. 17%). This trend needs to be reversed.  We also need to focus on purposeful strategies to reverse the brain drain and harness scientific knowledge, capabilities and commitment of Indian scientists abroad in the service of the nation.
9.    Our investments in R&D are estimated at about 0.98% of GDP with Public: Private share in the ratio of 75: 25. On the contrary, in most developed countries and economies like China and Korea, the Public: Private Share of R&D investments is in the ratio of 66: 34, respectively. Therefore, although there has been an increase in investments in scientific and technological research in India, we still lag behind when compared with key emerging and developed economies.
10.    It may thus be observed that in terms of conventional indicators, e.g.,   number of publications, number of patents, number of researchers per million population and investment in R&D  we are progressing well but we need to bridge the gap with the developed and emerging economies given the demands of a competitive global economy.
11.    We face a daunting national challenge in areas of food production, water, health, energy conservation and environment protection etc. which await scientific and technological solutions. Food grains production growth in the country has shown an average growth of 2% per annum during the last ten years. To keep pace with the food requirements of a growing population we need to explore the use of additional technologies and research to increase our food productivity as well as to revisit the existing pattern of our agriculture.  Declining size of land holdings, deteriorating land quality and soil health (soil salinity and water logging in irrigated areas, soil erosion in rainfed areasand nutrient deficiencies); climate change and emergence of new pests and diseases are major challenges that need to be addressed by the scientific community. R&D efforts in space technology applications for detailed assessment of biotic and abiotic stresses such as pests and diseases, nutrient and water stress etc. along with adoption of locale specific efficient water user technologies, organic farming, and exploring the possibility of application of biotechnology for development of high yielding varieties are urgent national priorities that must engage the attention of our scientific community.Scientists cutting across all disciplines need to work towards transforming agriculture into climate resilient and resource efficient production systems for ensuring food security to our increasing population.
12.    Water security is a major national concern: About 97% of water on earth is seawater which is not fit for human consumption directly.  The remaining 3% is available in the form of largely ice, small amount of surface water, and ground water.  Currently the annual rain precipitation over India is estimated at 4000 Km3. It is estimated that only 16% of the renewable supply of water is being used for various purposes.  This is clearly a non-sustainable rate of water use. The per capita availability of water is currently estimated to be of the order of 1820 cu m (Indiastat.com).    As the net water resource is more or less fixed, coupled with increasing population, the per capita availability of water of 1820 cu m is likely to reduce to 1210 cu m by 2050. A large number of people still suffer severe water shortages in different parts of the country as a result of uneven availability of water.  Having a vast coastline, India has a vast potential for generation of freshwater from seawater using desalination technology particularly to meet the potable needs of a large coastal population.  While science and Technology sector has developed a number of solutions for water related problems, these are required to be deployed in a cost effective manner.  Technologies for saving water in different uses as well as recycling of water need to be harnessed in aid of a critical national priority.
13.    Healthcare is a basic human right. It is also one of the fastest expanding sectors of the Indian economy in terms of revenue and employment. India faces unique challenges for achieving optimal health care for its people, due to its large population, demographic profile, vulnerability to epidemics in an increasingly globalized world and social and economic vulnerability of a significant section of its people. Communicable diseases like dengue fever, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, malaria, swine flu, bird flu and pneumonia etc., which were once considered to be under control have again resurfaced and some of them have even developed resistance to drugs. We are seeking solutions to HIV/AIDS, food and water borne diseases as well as lifestyle diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer.  India hasthe highest number of diabetic patients in the world. India-specific problems have assumed greater significance, and call for greater involvement of scientists cutting across various disciplines.
14.    The present energy scenario in the country is indeed challenging. The power supply position is markedinteralia by shortages and high prices for industrial consumers. There is concern about dependence on other countries for petroleum products thereby raising seriousissues about our energy security. Coal continues to dominate India’s energy basket raising environmental issues.  TheIndo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement will considerably assist in addressing the issue of clean energy and energy security. For long term sustainability renewable energy technologies will be the only option.  Solar photovoltaics could be a viable substitute. Biomass, particularly from agricultural wastes has great potential as a source of energy but improvement of technologies for biomass based energy production will have to be worked on. As part of the National Action Plan on Climate Change, a National Solar Energy Mission has been launched to generate 22 GW of power to increase the share of clean energy options in the energy basket of India. With this, several new opportunities to undertake R&D efforts have opened up.
15.    Our Space programmes have helped to reach out to people in remote areas providing modern communication systems through networks, disaster warning systems, quick resource service to target ground water, in imparting education, medical tourism and software industry. With the advancement of information technology the quality of instruction and the pace of learning have improved. Online education through distance mode has also provided opportunities to students to choose affordable higher education within their existing work schedules. Automation in several government departments has also rationalized the procedures and response times, thereby realizing the dream of late Sh. Rajiv Gandhi. Today, more than 50 % of our GDP growth comes from the service sector. All this can be credited to modern applications of science and technology across the sectors. But as we are all aware, so much more needs to be done to bring more and more people, especially those living below the poverty line, to participate in this prosperity. The onus on the scientific community as an enabler in this process needs to be emphasized. Scientists and technologists must become equal partners in making scientific knowledge relevant to society.
Extraordinary discoveries in the field of science and technology defy man’s ingenuity while spurring human creativity. For instance,scientists have discovered new ways to create new human veins in the laboratory. This has the potential to revolutionize heart surgery in future, as lab-made blood vessels could be safely stored and transplanted onto any patient. Similarly, British scientists have made a prototype of the most accurate blood test yet for the human form of mad cow disease and this indeed has the potential to transform the diagnosis and screening of this fatal brain disorder. In another field of exploration, astronomers have spotted a whole new solar system with small planets packed in close orbit to their sun. An orbiting telescope pointed scientists to more than 1,200 other possible exoplanets, that is, planets outside our own solar system.
16.    Ladies and Gentlemen, it is obvious that solutions to new challenges that we confront in the 21st century will come through technological breakthroughs coupled with a total commitment to basic research which calls for an integrated action plan on a pan India basis involving everyonein the chain.  We would therefore require an education system which nurtures creativity; R & D systems which support basic and applied research and technology development; industry which supports major R&D initiatives and promises efficient end-to-end delivery systems. All this presupposes an environment and culture conducive to the pursuit of scientific and technological excellence.
17.    While Science and Technology underpins most breakthrough initiatives, innovations play a critical role in enhancing delivery of services and enabling access to improved goods. The Government has taken a series of initiatives to stimulate and strengthen innovation and its entire eco-system—the formal science, technology and industrial system, and the innovation framework to develop solutions to subserve our national agendas.
18.    As you all know, 2010-20 has been declared as the “Decade of Innovations”.  India has a unique opportunity to emerge as a global leader in formulating an inclusive innovation agenda. Therefore, the principal focus of the Innovation ecosystem should be on affordability, cost-optimization and maximized benefits to people.  We need to develop innovative ways of applying the results and products of research for finding affordable solutions to national challenges. For this purpose, a new triangular relationship model between the academia, national laboratories and industry needs to be worked out for creating effective mechanisms of collaboration for universities and industry bodies so that research output and innovations can effectively be commercialized and transformed into marketable products and services for last mile benefits.  The marketplace for science and technology is vast, fast-growing and complex. It cuts across borders, between countries, industries and scientific disciplines. You may know that the Department of Science & Technology has launched a programme “Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research” (“INSPIRE”) for attracting new talent to Science.  The basic objective of the programme is to attract young minds to the creative pursuit of science at an early age thereby building the human resource pool for strengthening and expanding Science & Technology system and the R & D base in the country. Under this programme, 3.07 lakh awards amounting to Rs. 153.25 crore were sanctioned. 4500 awards were sanctioned to students for pursuing B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees while 499 fellowships were sanctioned for pursuing Ph.D. degrees.
19.     We will need to factor the role of science and technology in subserving our strategic interests.  Our pursuit of scientific and technological excellence must be inextricably connected to our delivery systems designed to provide the maximum benefit of development to the largest number of our people.  We need to reinforce our efforts to enhance “public scientific literacy” in the “new scientific age”.As a nation we face complex challenges. Addressing all these challenges requires an interdisciplinary education.Young minds ignited by knowledge and motivated by an obsession for excellence will be an enduring guarantee of national advancement. The setting could never have been better. 
To articulate the way every Indian feels today, I can do no better than to paraphrase the words of Hegel:
“We stand at the gates of an important epoch, a time of ferment, when the spirit moves forward in a leap, transcends its previous shape and takes on a new one…”
Ladies and Gentlemen, India is an idea whose time has come. In the years ahead,a resurgent India racing to take its rightful place in the comity of nations would be defined by an irrevocable national commitment to scientific and technological advancement, such as would ensure not only material prosperity but also “humanity’s rightful dignity and moral integrity”.
Finally, dear students, as you embark upon the challenging journey of your life you will encounter its many vicissitudes.  The education testified to, by the degrees that you hold today in your hands as proud postgraduateswill enable you to respond to life’smany challenges and situations.
I wish you all the very best in the years ahead as proud citizens of a great nation.

No comments:

Post a Comment