TALKING SCIENCE: Union human resources minister Kapil Sibal and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the Indian Science Congress in Chennai on Monday
SCIENCE IS AGELESS BUT OUR SCIENTISTS MUST BE YOUNGER,SAYS MANMOHAN
Chennai:The 98th Indian Science Congress opened here on Monday on an introspective note on higher education with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking universities to foster creativity on campuses without bureaucratic restrictions.Our universities have to be more hospitable to creativity and genius,and less captive to bureaucracy and procedure.They should be more open to talent and to the challenge of established ideas, he said,inaugurating the five-day event at SRM University.
Indian Science Congress Association general president KC Pandey set the ball rolling with his opening remarks,drawing the attention of the gathering of more than 7,000 scientists and academicians to Indias systematic failure in capitalising on its successes.CV Raman discovered the Raman effect,but we could not capitalise on it,while others invented the Raman scanner, Pandey said.Vice-chancellors of universities can bring in great changes,he said,but many of them prefer to play it safe and do little innovation.Assured salaries and absence of monitoring have been the bane of teaching faculties, he noted.
Filling in for chief minister M Karunanidhi in the congress chair,deputy CM MK Stalin pointed out that allocations for research and development in the country were meagre.There is an increasing trend of students shying away from maths and other pure sciences, Stalin said.
Manmohan Singh raised some difficult questions on ethics of scientific application.Should scientists step beyond their discipline and at least guide the social discourse on use of scientific knowledge.Should they develop a code of conduct that defines the limits within which they will work on the application of their discoveries Should there be a collegial process for deciding difficult cases I leave these as questions because the idea of ethics for science needs further discussion, he said.
The Prime Minister had more questions on why Indias outstanding discoveries were being converted into marketable products by firms abroad.Why is the translation of good science and research in products so weak in our country How do we strengthen the link between universities,research laboratories and industry I would like the science congress to discuss and come out with actionable recommendations, he said.
Singh,however,was hopeful of a brighter tomorrow which he felt could be heralded only by encouraging young scientists.Science is ageless,but our scientists must be younger, he said,urging the ministries of human resource development and of science and technology to jointly mount efforts to attract more young people to the study of science.
The Prime Minister wanted year 2012-13 (the centenary year of the Indian Science Congress) to be the Year of Science in India. The government would undertake a national celebration of the birth centenary of Nobel laureate S Chandrasekhar next year,he said.