Friends, First and foremost I wish you all a happy 2020. May this year be marked by prosperity in your lives and productivity in your labs. I am particularly happy that one of my first programmes in the start of a new-year and new decade is linked to science, technology and innovation. This programme is happening in Bengaluru, a city linked with science and innovation. The last time I had come to Bengaluru was when the eyes of the nation were set on Chandrayan-2. That time, the manner in which our nation celebrated science, our space programme and the strengths of our scientists will always be a part of my memory.
And Hence, When we start year 2020 with positivity and optimism of science and technology driven development, we take one more step in fulfilling our dream.
I have been told that India has climbed to third position globally in the number of peer reviewed science and engineering publications. It is also growing at a rate of about 10% compared to around 4% global average. I am also happy to learn that India’s ranking has improved in the Innovation Index to 52. Our programs have created more technology business incubators in the last five years than in the previous 50 years! I congratulate our scientists for these accomplishments.
The growth story of India depends on its achievements in the Science & Technology sector. There is a need to revolutionise the landscape of Indian science, Technology and Innovation. My motto for the young scientists bourgeoning in this country has been -“Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper”. These four steps will lead our country towards faster development. If we innovate, we will patent and that in turn will make our production smoother and when we take these products to the people of our country, they will prosper. Innovation for the people and by the people is the direction of our ‘New India’.
Friends, We are continuing our efforts to ensure the ‘Ease of doing Science’, and effectively using Information Technologies to reduce red tape. Today, farmers are able to sell their products directly to the market without being at the mercy of the middlemen. Digitalisation, E-commerce, internet banking and mobile banking services are assisting rural populations significantly. Today, farmers are getting the required information about the weather and forecasts at their fingertips through many e-governance initiatives.
Friends, There is a need for revolution in technologies assisting agricultural practices. Can we find farmer-centric solutions to the problem of stalk burning for instance? Can we also redesign our brick kilns for reduced emissions and greater energy efficiency? We need to find better and faster solutions to the problem of clean drinking water supplies around the country. How do we prevent effluents and discharge from industries from ruining our soil and our groundwater tables for years to come?
Another important point I wish to make is the significance of Make in India” in medical devices to bring the fruits of advances in diagnostics to our people.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “It is health that is the real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” To promote well-being, we should not only practice some of the tested traditional wisdom, but also continuously enlarge its scope by introducing the modern tools and concepts of contemporary biomedical research.
Our vision should be to protect people from the threats of dangerous communicable diseases like Nipah, Ebola, etc. We must work overtime to fulfil the promise to eradicate Tuberculosis by 2025. Globally, India is the leader in the supply of vaccines. We aim to develop India as a world-class, US$100 billion Bio-manufacturing hub by 2024. This will happen with right policy initiatives and support to innovative research, human resource development and entrepreneurial ecosystem.
India must also develop a long term roadmap for sustainable and environment friendly transportation and energy storage options. The latter becomes increasingly significant for grid management as we expand our renewal energy supply. These require developing new battery types which are based on earth abundant, environmentally benign materials which are not monopolistic, are affordable on 100s of giga watt scales, and suitable for tropical climates.
Friends, The economic and social benefits of accurate weather and climate forecasting are immense. There have been considerable improvements in weather forecast and warning services especially in case of Tropical cyclones. This is evident from large reduction in casualties. Our successes in space exploration should now be mirrored in the new frontier of the deep sea. We need to explore, map and responsibly harness the vast oceanic resources of water, energy, food and minerals. This requires developing deep strengths in manned submersibles, deep sea mining systems and autonomous underwater vehicles. This, I hope will be made possible by a ‘Deep Ocean Mission’ being formulated by the Ministry of Earth Sciences.
I have learned from the scientists that the potential energy, the silent form of energy, can move mountains by its conversion to the kinetic energy of motion. Can we build a Science in Motion? Imagine the enormous impact of a full translation of our scientific potential into an unprecedented socio-economic development through relevant technologies, innovations, startups and industry. Can we have this high pressure steam drive a high speed engine of Science & Technology to navigate and connect the new India of opportunities?