Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called upon the scientific community in the country to take up new challenges that would not only help find solutions to various problems facing the common man, but also make a mark for India in the global arena.
Inaugurating the fifth edition of the India International Science Festival (IISF) in Kolkata via video conferencing from New Delhi, the Prime Minister said scientists could take up challenges such as development of scalable and cost-effective alternatives to plastic, and improvement in the efficiency of power storage devices and solar cells.
Tracing the evolution of science and technology in the world, he noted that while earlier necessity was said to be the mother of invention, it was no more so. Inventions such as the internet and artificial intelligence have opened up new possibilities of applications in a wide range of fields from healthcare to hospitality.
He urged scientists to not look for quick results. “Science is not like making noodles in two minutes or pizza in 30 minutes. Science should be done for long term benefits and long term solutions. Your work should be able to have its effect over centuries,” he said.
Referring to the recent lunar expedition Chandrayaan-2, in which there was a problem with soft landing, he said, “though the mission did not go as expected, it was still a success. It seems to have created a new wave of interest for science among the youth.”
Modi assured that the government was constantly working to promote a strong ecosystem for science and technology in the country and noted that scientific temper had a special place in the country. “Scientific temper has been given the status of a fundamental duty in the Constitution of our country. It is essential that we all promote it since it would help dispel superstition, promote rational thinking and creativity,” he said.
He recalled the contributions made by scientists from West Bengal to global science and said it was heartening that the birth anniversary of Sir CV Raman fell on November 7, while the conference is still on, and that of Jagdish Chandra Bose at the end of the month.
The Festival is an annual event organised jointly by science and technology-related Ministries and Departments of the Government of India and Vijnana Bharati. It has been held every year since 2015. The prime objective of the festival is to showcase India’s contributions in the fields of science and technology over the years and encourage the translation of its benefits to the common man and promote scientific temper among the people of the country. The theme for this year’s festival is “RISEN India – Research, Innovation, and Science Empowering the Nation”.
Among other things, the program features a science film festival, science literature festival, women scientists and entrepreneurs conclave, agricultural scientists’ meet, health research conclave, industry-academia conclave, national science teachers’ congress, and national startup conclave.
Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous organisation of the Department of Science and Technology, is the nodal agency to coordinate IISF 2019.