Addressing the concluding session of the India International Science Festival on Friday, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu said it is the hard work of scientists in the country that has brought India on the verge of releasing our own indigenous Covid-19 vaccine.
The Vice President said that at the beginning of the pandemic, India started off with barely a few testing kits, but within months, scientists developed cheaper indigenous rapid testing kits, ventilators and PPEs.
“Today, we are even able to export PPEs. It is in this context that people have to be made aware of scientific developments of the day and the work of the dedicated scientists,’’he said, adding, “Science is not just about natural laws and state of the art technology. Science is also about the spirit of rational inquiry that can guide us in our lives. This is even recognised by our Constitution, which identifies the development of scientific temper as one of our Fundamental Duties.”
“If we imbibe this temper, we can apply scientific methodology to every endeavour of life and make informed decisions. The methodology is simple: enquire, investigate, reason, and when satisfied, accept,” he said.
“The pandemic has also reinforced the importance of scientific temper in our lives. One of the major challenges in this pandemic has been the prevalence of the ‘infodemic’. False information on the nature of the virus, medication and the vaccine caused panic and anxiety among the people. It is not vaccines or drugs that can defeat the infodemic, but a rational outlook among people. A citizenry that can think critically will be immune to such misinformation or fake news,’’ the Vice President said.
Pointing out India’s long tradition of sharing its scientific
advancements with the rest of the world, he said that our decimal system was borrowed by Arab traders, which later spread to medieval Europe and the scientist and inventor JC Bose never filed a single patent despite the many inventions and discoveries he made. “It is in the same spirit that we have not only become the pharmaceutical hub of the world, but we have been extensively sharing these life-saving drugs with the rest of the developing world,’’ he said.
“If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that we need to invest and sustain R&D and to strive to become self-reliant. Our space programme is a sterling example of how self-reliance can be achieved. To this extent, I also call upon the private sector to partner with various institutes to promote innovation in the country. We should also aim to first achieve self-reliance in critical sectors like electronics and defence,’’ he added.
The Vice President also pointed out that with the fourth industrial revolution underway, India cannot afford to miss the opportunity. “We must quickly capitalise on our demographic dividend, skill our youth, and ride this revolution to make our unique mark in the world of science,’’ he said.
He further said that the country needs to focus more on science education.
Naidu concluded by saying that most of all, science and technology should address pressing needs of the common man.