Dr Seema Dwivedi
NEW DELHI: Community engagement and connecting research taking place inside academic institutions with solving problems on the ground was the key message of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s address at the 108th Indian Science Congress (ISC) via video conferencing on January 3.
The congress was held at Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University which is also celebrating its centenary this year. The focal theme of this year’s ISC was ‘Science and Technology for Sustainable Development with Women Empowerment’. Various sessions were held around sustainable development, women empowerment and the role of science & technology in achieving this.
In his inaugural address, the Prime Minister highlighted the role of India’s scientific strength in India’s story of development over the next 25 years. “When the spirit of national service gets infused in science along with passion, results are unprecedented. I am sure, India’s scientific community will ensure a place for our country which it has always deserved”, he said.
Pointing out that observation was the root of science, and it was by such observation that scientists followed patterns and arrived at required results, the Prime Minister mentioned the importance of gathering data and analysing results. He highlighted the abundant availability of data and technology in 21st century India and said that it had the potential to take Indian science to new heights. He also informed that the field of data analysis was moving forward at a meteoric pace which was of great help in converting information into insight and analysis into actionable knowledge.
“Be it traditional knowledge or modern technology, each one plays a crucial role in scientific discovery”, the Prime Minister remarked. He also emphasised the need to strengthen the scientific processes by applying various techniques of researchled development.
Speaking about the result of India’s tryst with the scientific approach, the Prime Minister said that India was being counted among the top countries of the world as it moved to 40th place in the Global Innovation Index in 2022 from 81st place in 2015. India is among the top three nations in the world in terms of the number of PhDs and startup ecosystems.
Expressing happiness about the theme of the Science Congress this year which combines sustainable development with women empowerment, the Prime Minister emphasised the complementarity between the two areas. However, he stressed, “Our thinking is not just that we should empower women via science but also empowering science by the contribution of women.” Informing that India has been entrusted the responsibility of presiding over G20, the Prime Minister pointed out that women-led development was one of the high-priority subjects taken up by the chair.
Highlighting the women who showcase their strength to the world, be it in a partnership in small industries and businesses or leadership in the start-up world, the Prime Minister gave the example of Mudra Yojna which has been instrumental in empowering women of India. He also pointed out the doubling of women’s participation in the field of extramural R&D.