Bengaluru: India's biotechnology queen and Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw on Monday told the students of Indian Institute of Science (IISc) here to step out of the laboratories and inspire society.
"As the country's iconic scientific academic institution, I urge you (students) to go out of your laboratories and connect with society. We need society to be inspired by scientific pursuit and scientific promise," she told a gathering of students during the institute's convocation ceremony.
Shaw urged IISc to work on outreach programmes in schools so as to encourage more students to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Calling science literacy an urgent issue for modern India, the Biocon chief said India would lose out its competitive edge among other countries if its science literacy remained low.
Quoting renowned American astronomer Carl Sagan, she said "we live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology", and asked Indian scientists to come out of their "ivory towers" and humanise science.
Scientists have the responsibility to support society in understanding science and issues like global warming, water shortage and plastic pollution among others, she said.
"Your scientific jobs do not end with discovery, but in communicating and inspiring people through impactful narratives. It's about educating society on decision science, which is based on data and facts rather than opinions and anecdotes.
"Thanks to (former Prime Minister Jawaharlal) Nehru's vision, India has been able to achieve a level of scientific and technological development that very few post-colonial nations have achieved."
Even with India's space agency Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) having a budget one-tenth of American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it has propelled India as a leader in space research, Shaw said.
A total of 856 students from IISc, including 50 medal winners, were awarded their degrees on Monday in various disciplines like aerospace engineering, telecommunication, microbiology and cell biology among others.
Along with Shaw, IISc Director Anurag Kumar, IISc Council Chairman P. Ramarao and other faculty were at the event.