Saturday, January 7, 2012

Need for Increased Participation of Women in Science: Nirupama Rao

The Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, has called for increased participation and retention of women scientists for overall development of the nation.   

Inaugurating the first Women Science Congress on the sidelines of the ongoing 99th Indian Science Congress (ISC) at Bhubaneshwar, Rao called for doubling efforts to make science more inclusive. She said that India need to encourage the participation of women in science in the country. 

The former foreign secretary, external affairs department, India called for policy changes to remove gender-based disparity in science and other sectors. "We have to encourage participation and retention of Indian women scientists in science and technology, which is important for national development and the success of other programmes," she added.

The  Congress theme 'Science and Technology for Inclusive Innovation - Role of Women' is focused on women in science. In line with the theme, the five-day ISC is headed by Geetha Bali, Vice Chancellor of the Karnataka State Women's University, Bijapur. She is the fourth woman in the history of the ISC to head the Congress.

Addressing the Women Science Congress, D. Purandeswari, Minister of State for Human Resource Development (HRD), said the development of women cannot be complete without their equal participation in science.

Earlier, inaugurating the Congress, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had underlined the need for transparency in selection procedures, and also the importance of gender audits.

"We should also take note of the results of a study published last year that showed that 60 percent of nearly 2,000 Indian women PhDs in science who were surveyed were unemployed. The main reason cited was lack of job opportunities. Only a very small number cited family reasons. This underlines the need for transparency in selection procedures at institutions and also the importance of gender audits," she said. (Source: PIB.05.01.12)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kalam asks students to dedicate to Science

Former President of India, Dr. A.P.J. AbdulKalam, has appealed to school children to work dedicatedly in the field of science and technology. Inaugurating the Children Science Congress on the sidelines of 99th Indian Science Congress at Bhubaneswar, Dr. Kalam answered questions raised by children.

Replying to a question on how he managed to balance science with politics during his tenure as the President of India, Kalam said, “Science needs lots of money and money comes from politicians.” Defending expenditure on defence programmes he expressed, “I personally feel science is for people who have the capacity to do that and you can select science or humanity.” He also replied question on science, space and missile technology. “Earth, Moon and Mars will become economic entity in next three decades" and the world will derive lot of things from those places, he added. 

Children Science Congress is held every year since 1993 with an aim to make children aware of scientific developments and practices in scientific methods. Students also take part and display innovative ideas at Science Exhibition held parallel to the three-day event. (Source:PIB.04.01.2012)

India Declares 2012 as Year of Mathematics

India Must Spend 2% of GDP on R&D: Indian Prime Minister

The 99th Annual Session of the Indian Science Congress was inaugurated  on 3rd January, 2012, at Bhubaneswar, Orissa.

More than 15,000 delegates, including scientists and students, participate in the  five day event (Jan 3-7) event  held at the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT University). The theme of the conference was "Science and Technology for Inclusive Innovation - Role of Women”. The event had technical sessions, plenary sessions, vision talks, panel discussions, public lectures, a 'Pride of India' expo and other programmes. Besides the emphasis on women and children, the other issue in focus at the Congress was missiles. India's premier military weapons developer, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO),  displayed models of various missile versions, the Agni, Prithvi, Nag, Akash, BrahMos and Astra missiles.

Inaugurating the event, the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh has said that the country must aim to increase the total R&D spending as a percentage of GDP to at least 2 per cent by the end of the twelth five year plan period from the current level of about 1 per cent. This can only be achieved if industry, which contributes about one-third of the total R&D expenditure today, increases its contribution significantly. He said, “I sincerely believe that Public Sector Undertakings, particularly those in the energy sector should also play a major role in this expansion”.

To pay tribute to India's great scientist M. S. Ramanujan, the year 2012 will be celebrated as the Year of Mathematics, the Prime Minister declared.

Inaugurating the Congress, the Prime Minister said that India has to increase public private partnerships and catalyse significantly increased interaction between publicly owned Science and Technology institutions and industry. In some ways it is ironic that General Electric and Motorola have created world-class technology hubs in India, while our own industry has not done so, except the pharmaceutical sector, he cautioned. What the country needed, therefore , is to look at ways of incentivising private Research and Development investment under the Indian conditions, the Prime Minister added.

The Prime minister informed that a proposal is under consideration to build national capacity and capability in supercomputing which will be implemented by the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, at an estimated cost of Rs. 5000 crore.

The prime Minister said that over the last few years, the number of scientific publications by Indian scientists working in India has increased at more than 12% per annum against the global average of 4%. India has moved from the 15th rank in 2003 to the 9th rank in 2010 with respect to the number of publications in peer-valued journals. He informed about the National Innovation Council’s proposal to set up an India Inclusive Innovation Fund that will drive and catalyse enterprise, entrepreneurship, and venture capital, while targeting solutions for the bottom of the national pyramid.

Congratulating Dr. Geetha Bali, General President of 99th Indian Science Congress, Dr. Manmohan Singh said, the role of Science and Technology for inclusive innovation with special reference to the role of women, was the theme for the Congress. He reminded about the commitment of his Government to give a boost to the science and technology sector in the country, for which several steps towards had been taken.

The Prime Minister said that while research generates new knowledge, there is  need for innovation to use this knowledge creatively and productively for social benefit. A step in this direction is the Government's decision to  declare 2010-20 as the “Decade of Innovations”. He cautioned against any complacency to give practical meaning to innovation, so that it does not end up being just a buzz word.

He said, it is important that the country explores and rejuvenates traditional knowledge systems found all over the country in areas such as agriculture, architecture, handicrafts and textiles. One need go no further than the tribal communities of the Kharia, Santhals, Gonds and Kolhas who live in the deep forest areas of Mayurbhanj and have a reservoir of knowledge on medicinal usage of locally available plants.
The Prime minister gave away awards to the eminent persons in the field of development of science and technology.

On the occasion, besides other dignatories present, the Union Minister of Science and Technology, Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, Shri Ashwani Kumar were present. An exhibition of scientific innovations and models was also organized. Around 15 Nobel Laureates and noted speakers from various countries and India are attended the Congress. 

India as a Major Player in Science World Scene Before  2017 End: Vilasrao Deshmukh

During the Congress, the Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Vilasrao Deshmukh, said that the host city Bhubaneswar had a long history since Cheddi dynasty. It was only befitting that the UNESCO – Kalinga prize for Science popularization instituted by Biju Patnaik 60 years ago is being celebrated in Bhubaneshwar, and welcomed the distinguished delegates to the Science congress and diamond jubilee of UNESCO Kalinga prize.

He quoted the First Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who had said,“The future belongs to science and those who make friends with science”. World has come to realize that science, technology and innovation would impact the future societies and make friends with science. Nations invest significantly into science. Exponential advances in science and technology have triggered intensive social transformations.

Tracing India's experiment with science and technology, he said that at the time of Independence, India had inherited a shattered economy. The life expectancy at birth was less than 30. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, revealed faith in scientific research for solving problems of the poor and the country. He invested into R&D establishments when India was poor. Today, infant mortality rate has gone down to almost half of what it was sixty years ago; average life expectancy has more than doubled. He appreciated these returns from investments made in science sector earlier for the benefit of the people.

Science and our scientists have delivered solutions whenever challenged by national problems, he said. Highlights of his speech follows:

  • We solved the problem of food shortage through green revolution and milk shortage through white revolution.

  • We look at tomorrow from where we stand today. We notice that world is turning into a large and connected village. Globalization has moved science, technology and innovation and dynamics of knowledge production to the center stage of development. Social contract of science is much more evident today than ever before.

  • Investment into R&D will be increased from present level of less than 1% to 2% of the GDP. Emerging Asian economies are increasing their R&D investments markedly.

  • China files five times more patents than India per billion dollars of GDP. The private sector engagement and investment are essential for gaining from the R&D outputs through their commercialization.

  • India need big ideas in science, new methods in governance of R&D systems, proper investment in resources, fulfilment of aspiration to emerge as world leader in science and dedication to serve the people of India through the tools of technology and affordable innovations.

  • Our science and technology policy was enunciated in 2003. We need a new and well enunciated Science, Technology and Innovation policy. It should promote an innovation ecosystem that addresses the national priority for inclusive and sustained growth. My Ministry will dedicate to the Nation such a well balanced policy soon. To make sensible use of the bio-technological tools and techniques for the benefit of our people, we are establishing a transparent and evidence-based regulatory system.

  • There is need for paradigm shift in our present  mindsets of developing “policy for science’ to developing “science policy for people”. Current Indian policies treat the R&D sector in segregated compartments. A change in the policy paradigm for treating the entire R&D sector in the country as one and developing PPPs for R&D to promote public and social good are important new strategies. R&D outputs should be converted into measurable economic and social outcomes.

Connecting to the theme of “The role our women in inclusive Innovation”, the minister asked, "What will propel the Indian women to be at the vanguard of National development?" He said, at present the  education and social awareness encourage women to accept different careers. Women-in-science is a conscious developmental paradigm. "I chair a task force for enhancing the role of women in Indian science. The task force in engaged in ensuring that more and more innovation leaders emerge from among our women".

That gender relations and innovation are constantly changing in their own spheres is well known. We should connect them through both policy and programmes, he said.
He said that his ministries are working hard to enable the Indian science, technology and innovation system deliver what the nation and people of the country expect. This is the period of positive developments in Indian science.

He pointed out several new programmes started. The Ministry of Earth Sciences is launching a Monsoon Mission. An Earthquake study through deep-borehole investigation in Koyna-Warna area of Maharashtra is also being initiated. A North East Centre for Technology Application and Reach (NECTAR) is being established at Shillong by the Department of Science & Technology. Research on Himalayan Glaciology is also being strengthened. CSIR is setting up a series of Innovation Complexes with world class facilities for undertaking translational research in partnership with Industry, R&D Institutions and Universities. The first three of them will be positioned at Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Current Indian policies treat the R&D sector in segregated compartments. A change in the policy paradigm for treating the entire R&D sector in the country as one and developing PPPs for R&D to promote public and social good are important new strategies. R&D outputs should be converted into measurable economic and social outcomes.

Connecting to the Congress theme of “The role our women in inclusive Innovation”, he said that presently 60% of all graduates across Asia, America and Europe are women. They are well educated. Indian women are hardwired to not only understand but also apply economic principles even better than men. Harnessing the power of talented women “will pave the way for future of generations”.

The minister thanked the Prime Minister, Dr.Manmohan Singh for unprecedented support to Science, Technology and Innovation , and the Planning Commission in formulating the 12th Five Year Plan, and assured the country that India will emerge as a major player in the science world before the end of 2017.” (Source:PIB.03.01.2012).