Dream, imagine and explore. You will have no better supporter than me. In turn, I seek your help in transforming India,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured scientists and students while inaugurating the 102nd Indian Science Congress (ISC) at Mumbai University on Saturday.
“We need to put science, technology and innovation at the top of national priorities. We in India are the inheritors of a thriving tradition of Indian science and technology since ancient times. Mathematics and medicine; metallurgy and mining; calculus and textiles; architecture and astronomy — the contribution of the Indian civilisation to human knowledge and advancement has been rich and varied. We must restore the pride and prestige of science in our nation, revive the romance for science in society, rekindle the love for it in our children, and encourage our scientists,” he said, addressing 16,000 delegates in one of his rare English speeches.
The PM said he finds science and technology an invaluable ally in governance and development. He also stressed that digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to school.
Modi said that when he speaks of ease in doing business in India, he also wants to pay equal attention to the ease in doing research and development in the country.
He said India’s investment in science and technology is far too concentrated in Central agencies and must become more broad-based.
“Our universities must be freed from the clutches of excessive regulation and cumbersome procedures. They must have a higher degree of academic freedom and autonomy; and, there should be as much emphasis on research as on teaching. In turn, universities must also subscribe to the highest academic and research standards,” said Modi.
He also promised a clear regulatory framework and more autonomy to universities and researchers.
“We want them to consider publications, not government approvals, to be the epitome of their success… Further, every department should see how to apply science and technology to improve their work. Each should have an officer focusing on science and technology… and, allocate a percentage of its budget for such activities,” the PM said.