PM inaugurates 98th Science Congress in Chennai
Six Nobel Laureates and around 140 eminent scientists from within and outside India are expected to participate in the conference
Monday, January 03, 2011

CHENNAI, INDIA: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today inaugurated the 98th Indian Science Congress in Chennai.

While inaugurating the event Dr. Manmohan Singh said Tamil Nadu has a unique place in the world of Indian science. India’s first Nobel Laureate in the sciences, Dr C V Raman, was a proud student of Presidency College, Chennai. So was Professor S. Chandrasekhar. The State has also produced one of India’s greatest mathematicians, Srinivasa Ramanujan.

“The time has come for Indian science to once again think big; think out of the box; and think ahead of the times. The time has come for India to produce the Ramans and Ramanujans of the 21st Century,” he said.

“This year, as we usher in the New Year, we also usher in the “Decade of Innovation”. There is no better way to do that than to salute the creativity and the genius of our scientists and engineers, our professionals, our workers, our scholars and students, gathered here today,” the Prime Minister added.

The theme of the 98th Science Congress is “Quality Education and Excellence in Science Research in Indian Universities.”

“I have always believed that a university is the vital link in the chain of science teaching and research. We must never forget that. Unless we strengthen the base of our educational system, we can never hope to extend the height of the pyramid of excellence,” said the PM in his address.

Referring to the development of synthetic chemistry finding use in developing poison gas used in wars and of agro chemicals and pharmaeuticals, he said: "The application of scientific knowledge to human and social development must be value-based even though science may itself be value neutral."

Citing modern developments in bio-sciences, Manmohan Singh said: "We are now acquiring the capacity to manipulate the human genome. But we have not yet developed an ethical framework that defines red lines that we must not cross as we do this."

The Prime Minister said that ethics for science needed further discussion. He urged the scientific community to discuss and deliberate on questions like whether scientists should step beyond their discipline and guide the social discourse on the use of scientific knowledge. Another questions to be deliberated is whether a code of conduct should defines the limits within which scientists will work on the application of their discoveries.

Referring to the poor translation of good science and research into marketable products in India, he urged the congress to come up with recommendations on strengthening the link between Indian universities, research laboratories and industry.

The Prime Minister stressed on the need to better higher education in the country and claimed that the government was already moving forward in this direction.

"Our government has paid special attention to the growth of our university system. In the past six years, our government has established eight new Indian Institutes of Technology and five institutes" of higher education and research, he said.

He said that 2012-13 will be the centenary year of the Indian Science Congress and asked the Ministry of Science and Technology to designate 2012-13 as the Year of Science in India.

Six Nobel Laureates - Amartya Sen, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Ada Yonath, Thomas Steitz, Tim Hund and Martin Chalfie - and around 140 eminent scientists from within and outside India are expected to participate in the conference.

For the first time perhaps, the annual premier science event will be focussing on several major issues of the future relevant to India's growth in the next decade.

Science research will be in particular focus, as well as major interactions with industry and the education sector.

With both science and technology and education ministries with Kapil Sibal, the organisers expect some policy initiatives to be announced at the Congress which will help bring innovation and research into mainstream industry as India takes big steps toward energy security, defence and space.

Sectoral sessions will be devoted to healthcare, research, new drugs, drug delivery systems. Food security and climate change will both be debated in detail and roadmaps for India's future decisions on climate change issues and food security for the subcontinent's 1.3 billion people.

Biodiversity and conservation along with nano, bio and space technology will be highlighted in 16 plenary sessions and the Nobel laureates will present their perspectives on issues of public and popular concern.

Like in the previous editions of the event, there will also be a Children's Science Congress where school children from different parts of India would display their models/charts.

The Childern's Science Congress will be inaugurated January 4 by Nobel laureate Ramakrishnan.

On January 5 around 2,000 school students will meet the six Nobel laureates attending the conference.

The union ministers who are expected to attend the event are Home Minister P.Chidambaram and Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister M.K. Alagri.

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