India to double investment in science: PM

By Syed Zarir Hussain, IANS,

Shillong : While announcing a doubling of the investment in science from one to two percent of the national income, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday urged the Indian industry to invest in research and development aimed at boosting science and technology so that young minds are attracted to seeking a career in science.

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“We need a new wave of investment from the private sector so that young people will be encouraged to seek a career in science,” the prime minister said while inaugurating the 96th Indian Science Congress at the Northeastern Hill University here.

“India is lagging behind not just in comparison to developed Western nations, but also the new industrialising economies of Asia. While the government is doing its bit to ensure quantitative development, the leadership for qualitative development must come from you (students, researchers and scientists),” Manmohan Singh said.

The prime minister announced doubling of the investment in science from one percent of the national income to two percent.

“Today we can say with pride that we have launched five new institutions dedicated to teaching and research in sciences,” he said. “New institutes for research in Himalayan glaciology, molecular materials, nano science and technology are to be created.”

Stressing that the central government was committed to enhancing the budgetary allocations for science and technology, Manmohan Singh said the budget outlay for the ministries of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences have been trebled in the last four years (2004-2008).

Singh said the parliament recently announced the setting up of a National Science and Engineering Research Board that would work towards formulating plans for scientific research funding in the country.

Stating that the government has placed the highest emphasis on making a career in science attractive to young students, the prime minister said that his government has widened the higher education base of the country by investing in the creation of 30 new central universities, five new Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research, eight new Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT) and 20 new Indian Institutes of Information Technology.

There are also proposals from the Ministry of Science and Technology to adopt a Cancer Research Institute in Chennai, Institute for Advanced Study in Science and Technology in Guwahati and the National Innovation Foundation as grantee institutions.

A large number of scientists, engineers and technologists from India and abroad have gathered for the annual science congress, which this year is on the theme of ‘Science education and attraction of talent for excellence in research’.

At the inauguration, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sabil said scientists of Indian origin scattered in various parts of the world were willing to contribute to Indian science.

“We are devising special programmes to encourage return of scientists to India and work in areas related to life sciences and bio-technology,” he said.

The five-day congress will see a galaxy of eminent scientists taking part in various seminars. Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam is scheduled to inaugurate the accompanying Child Science Congress here Sunday.