While the biggest challenge facing science right now is development of a vaccine for Covid-19, the biggest long-term challenge remains attracting and retaining youth in science, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday.
Inaugurating the sixth India International Science Festival (IISF), Modi also stressed the need for increased cooperation between science and industry, and appealed the global community to invest in Indian talent and innovate in the country.
The science festival, which concludes on December 25, will be the country’s largest virtual science festival till date, with the concluding session to be addressed by Vice President Venkaiah Naidu.
Stating that India has a rich legacy in science, technology and innovation, Modi said in his address: “Our scientists have done path-breaking research; our tech industry is at the forefront of solving global problems. But India wants to do more. We look at the past with pride but want an even better future. All our efforts are aimed at making India the most trustworthy centre for scientific learning.
“At the same time, we want our scientific community to share and grow with the best of global talent. One of the steps taken to achieve this is hosting and participating in hackathons to provide exposure and opportunity to Indian scientists.”
Modi said that the new National Education Policy will help build a scientific temper from an early age, with the focus of education shifting from outlays to outcome, and from textbooks to research and application. “The (National Education) Policy will encourage creation of a pool of top quality teachers. This approach will help budding scientists. This is being supplemented by the Atal Innovation Mission and Atal Tinkering labs being developed in schools across the country, in which science infrastructure is being upgraded.”
He said Atal Incubation Centres are also being created for higher education facilities..
For quality research, the government is running the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows Scheme to encourage the country’s best talents to undertake research as per their talent and interest, he said. With digital advances, the Prime Minister said, India is becoming a centre of evolution and revolution of global hi-tech power.
“To achieve this world-class education, health, connectivity and rural solutions, today’s India has data, demography and demand,” he said. “Above all, India has democracy to balance and protect all this. That is why the world trusts India.”
The Prime Minister stressed on scientific solutions for challenges of water scarcity, pollution, soil quality and food security facing the country.
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