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Source: The Hitavada      Date: 05 Nov 2017 12:52:08


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is true that unless the benefits of science and education reach the lives of billions of our countrymen and make them better facilitated, the meaning of all the effort loses significance.


We have the talent, the resources, and ample Government support, only what we lack is the vision and the right implementation of our resources. We love to settle in the groove and shun new challenges, which make us contented with the little we do and have in our noble reticence.

PRESIDENT Ram Nath Kovind recently said that democracy without scientists, farmers, and labourers could not make sense. On his visit to Bengaluru, the President was speaking to scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). 

Asserting that science had been India’s ‘intellectual trigger and force multiplier,’ the President said institutions like ISRO and IISc had succeeded in helping farmers in the country and in expanding academic capabilities of India.


“We have seen how ISRO succeeded through the efforts of Satish Dhawan (its former chairman) in combining cutting-edge science with help to farmers,” he said. “We have to lift our people out of poverty, ensure their health and well-being and ensure our food and energy needs,” Kovind added.


Adding another pertinent dimension to the discourse, the President said, “Knowledge, discovery, innovation, and society are the four wheels of the country. As scientists, you are directly in charge of the three wheels. But unless you connect with the fourth - society - we have no future.”
It is true that unless the benefits of science and education reach the lives of billions of our countrymen and make them better facilitated, the meaning of all the effort loses significance. It often happens that many of our scholars and scientists sit atop the proverbial ivory tower and get so engrossed in their own efforts and achievements that the actual effect of their work on the common man is lost sight of.


The scholars and scientists must always remember that whatever they are doing must have a positive impact on the lives of millions of common men and women because in the end that will strengthen democratic institutions and democratic values in society.


The Government spends crores of rupees in the upkeep and continuation of scientific research and scholarship through the 300-odd universities and other institutes of excellence.
Unless the researchers give it back to society in some form, all the tax-payers’ money then goes waste. Research, scholarship and scientific breakthroughs are not for self-satisfaction or monetary gains or official compulsions. Unless they bring changes on the ground, all exercise is futile and defeats their very purpose.


We have made huge strides in some spheres of scientific development like space research but have been lagging in many other important spheres. We still cannot make our own high-quality aircraft and have to spend billions buying them from the US or the UK. We still lag in the manufacture of high-end and state-of-the-art defence equipment. We are among the lowest in the world when it comes to producing research papers of any global influence.


Our universities stand low in global rankings. Even our top scientific and technical institutes are found in the bottom rung of the global list. The quality of education, exposure and research has to be improved. Most graduates coming out of our engineering and management institutes are not even fit for the job despite having the professional qualification.


There is a huge disconnect between what they learn in theory and what they have to face practically when they join the industry. The shortcoming starts right from the school level where our syllabus is largely theoretical and much away from what reality holds in store for the young minds and hands when they go out in society. This leaves them handicapped when it comes to life skills and professional excellence.


Therefore, this too is a case of an education system which doesn’t actually benefit the students, who are the future of the country. The basic flawed premise remains the same. Educationists and scientists need to devise ways to reach to the greater public as well as monitor the actual day to day benefits science bestows on human life, making it better.
We need better technology for potable water to every Indian more than we need hybrid cars. We need tools to surmount the challenges which floods and droughts pose to millions of people more than we need to have six-lane highways.


Our scientific pursuits must not be misdirected because India is a poor and developing country which needs more and more innovation and intervention by the boons of science in social engineering, manufacturing, farming and defence sectors.
We have the talent, the resources, and ample Government support, only what we lack is the vision and the right implementation of our resources. We love to settle in the groove and shun new challenges, which make us contented with the little we do and have in our noble reticence.


We need to be more ambitious, more competitive and spirited. Such an attitude will itself open up possibilities, avenues and lend us scope to do more, reach deeper. There are several high profile projects which are languishing and being dumped for want of the right innovation, approach or funding, which is a shame for a country like India which has such immense potential. The world notes a country’s achievements in science, technology and research and gives the right credits for the same. A country’s heft and prestige revolves around its scientific excellence and global reach of its innovations and inventions. Today, many countries like China are capturing large parts of the global market for the same reason.


It is a serious impediment that bugs us and holds us back from being the best. The kind of success we have tasted in space research and software developments needs to be replicated in all spheres of education and research.
Many institutions of repute, for instance, have the right ecosystem and logistics and an uninterrupted flow of funds to make them big but for years, they have been sitting on important projects. These delays and cost overruns are costing the country dearly as we have to spend our valuable financial resources.


Why can’t we do it if Israel and Russia and China can? The Government and scientists must explore the reasons that drag us down. Those in responsible positions must be accountable for the lapses and delays. The Government should adopt the PPP model and invite private firms for enhanced investment and innovation in the science and technology sector to benefit India in a bigger way. The GDP spending on scientific research must be increased too. Opening the doors of education to foreign investors too will help in better exposure and a more fecund growth
ecosystem.