Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday gave a boost to the country’s research and development (R&D) works by announcing scientific projects worth over Rs 9,000 crore. In his inaugural address at the 101st Indian Science Congress, in Jammu, the Prime Minister emphasized the need for increasing the annual expenditure on science and technology to at least two per cent of the GDP and urged the corporate sector to join hands with the government in realising the goal.
Among the projects announced by Singh were National Mission on High Performance Computing with an outlay of Rs 4,500 crore, setting up of a National Geographical Information System with an outlay of about Rs 3,000 crore and a Neutrino-based Observatory in Tamil Nadu at a cost of about Rs 1,450 crore. A National Mission on Teaching will also be launched to enhance the esteem of teachers, he said.
Stating that India will partner with the international scientific community in the establishment of world’s major research and development projects, Singh announced that the country will join the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) as an associate member.
He also referred to the global interest in the effort of the country’s scientists to develop a fast breeder reactor and added that he was hopeful that the prototype, currently under construction in Kalpakkam, will be completed this year. “It will be a great day for Indian science and technology because we will be one of the few countries in the world with leadership in a completely new area of nuclear technology that can contribute non-polluting electrical power,” Singh told the delegates attending the congress.
Referring to the advances made in the field of meteorology, especially the accurate forecast of the site of landfall during the recent cyclone in Orissa, Singh said, “I would also like to see the continuous improvement in our monsoon prediction capability through the recently launched Monsoon Mission so that we avert the kind of calamities that we saw in Uttarakhand last year.” He also referred to the establishment of a new department for Health Education and Research, saying the development of rotavirus vaccine, a new drug for malaria and many other leads emanating from the collaborative research are all reassuring developments.
Singh emphasized on launching a national drive for an ‘Ever-Green Revolution’ so as to ensure food security, besides improving land and water productivity. The use of bio-technology has great potential to improve yields, he said, adding that while safety must be ensured “we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt crops”.
Affordable innovations for healthcare, sustainable agriculture, clean energy and total solutions for water related challenges are some areas where Indian science can seek global leadership, he said. “Our basic research must be directed to make new discoveries with innovative efforts to develop affordable solutions,” the Prime Minister added.