Harness science to boost agriculture, cut rich-poor gap: PM

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 03, 2013 10:40 hrs

Kolkata, Jan 3 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday said science and technology must be used for boosting agricultural production as well as to bridge the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Addressing the Indian Science Congress here, the prime minister said scientific tools must be used to find out new breakthroughs in water-saving technologies of cultivation, boosting land productivity as well as development of climate-resistant varieties of crop.

The prime minister said the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 released here Thursday aspires to position India among the top five global scientific powers by the year 2020.

"As India seeks a sustained growth of its national income, we must endeavour to harness the tools of science to cater to the needs of the underprivileged and to bridge the gap between the haves and the have-nots," he said. The five-day conclave will see six Nobel laureates, 60 foreign scientists and over 15,000 delegates participating.

The prime minister also called for popularising science in schools and colleges, as well as in homes and workplaces through communication methods.

"Eventually, science must help in establishing an inclusive society that seeks to solve major social problems through the application of science," he stressed.

Manmohan Singh called upon scientists to carve a niche for India in the fields of energy security, sanitation, provision of safe drinking water, labour intensive manufactures and universal healthcare at affordable prices.

He asked the industry to participate in the effort by setting up in-house research centres and through interaction with the academia.

The prime minister also called for a "holistic organisational approach" to science and technology marked by "cross-fertilization of disciplines and synergy among stakeholders".

"Government-sponsored research must be supplemented by research in private labs. Academic and research systems must foster innovation and entrepreneurship and therefore link up with those interested in commercial development," he stressed.

The prime minister said that international collaboration was "vital" and mentioned India's "significant collaboration" with the Large Hadron Collider project in Switzerland that led to the discovery of the elusive Higgs Boson and also with some countries on the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

Stressing that the "quality of India's scientific institutions will depend upon the quality of the students we can attract into science, the freedom we give them in pursuing scientific research and the human resource policies we follow in selecting leaders", Manmohan Singh said only the best students must be selected.

He also called for using the services of Indian scientists abroad "who may wish to return to India at least for some years".

The prime minister also chaired a session on science for shaping the future of India at the Science Congress here.

This is the centenary celebration of the Indian Science Congress, which was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee Thursday morning.

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