The Vice President of India, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon the scientific community to find long-term solutions to the problems faced by farmers and improve crop productivity and farmers’ income.
He also wanted scientists to explore ways to make crops climate-resilient, nutrition-efficient and less water consuming.
Delivering the Valedictory Speech at the 107th Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru, the Vice President said that global warming and climate change were affecting the weather patterns in an unpredictable manner and causing massive devastation at times. He sought to know from the scientists whether the problems faced by farmers due to nature’s fury could be mitigated.
Calling for concerted efforts, Shri Naidu emphasized upon the critical role of technology in enhancing both the quality and quantity across the agriculture value chain from the use of inputs at the pre-production stage to post-production and marketing to improve the income of farmers.
The Vice President, while noting how technology was making our lives more comfortable, said that at the same time new challenges were arising. He said science must find solutions to problems like increasing urbanization, pollution, urban-rural divide, growing antibacterial resistance, genetic & non-communicable diseases and water scarcity, among others.
Urging schools to lay the foundation for the spread of a strong scientific culture in the country, he stressed that such a foundation would become the basis for creating an ecosystem for creativity and innovation to thrive.
“The need of the hour is to foster the spirit of inquisitiveness, curiosity and scientific temper right from the primary school level”, he said.
Observing that there was a crying need for our universities and scientific institutions to promote R & D on a big scale, the Vice President called for expanding the academia-industry linkage to promote research and innovation in a big way. Technological innovation was a key driver in boosting economy, improving people’s lives and enabling better delivery of services he added.
“India like no other country has a huge demographic dividend and can emerge as the innovation and knowledge if our universities and scientific institutions invest more on R & D and significantly the raise the standards of research”, Shri Naidu stressed.
The Vice President also urged the corporate India to develop a symbiotic partnership with the universities and to identify and fund a dozen futuristic projects.
Opining that India was surging forward with renewed vigour and enthusiasm, the Vice President said that it must leverage the demographic opportunity with science and technology playing a leading role in driving the economic and social development in order to make the country a $ 5 trillion economy.
Shri Naidu lauded the government initiatives such as Make in India, Digital India and Start-Up India that promote indigenous manufacturing, empower people digitally and wealth-creation through innovation.
He wanted senior scientists to mentor and hand-hold the young ones to benefit from such schemes and realize their scientific and entrepreneurial potential.
Chief Minister of Karnataka, Shri B.S. Yediyurappa, General President of Indian Sciences Congress, K.S. Rangappa, and the, Vice-Chancellor, University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru, Dr. S. Rajendra Prasad were among the dignitaries who graced the occasion.
Following is the full text of the speech-
New Year Greetings to you all!
I am delighted to deliver the valedictory address at the 107th Indian Science Congress, a prestigious annual event.
It is quite appropriate that this important meeting of scientific minds is being held on the campus of an Agricultural University. As you all are aware, agriculture plays a vital role in the overall growth of the economy.
For the past many years, agriculture has been facing distress in spite of the measures taken by successive governments at the Centre and in various States to improve crop productivity and incomes of the farmers.
Dear sisters and brothers,
Agriculture is close to my heart as I come from a farmer’s family. I understand the pain and suffering of farmers when they face adverse seasonal conditions or natural calamities.
Global warming and climate change are real and cannot be wished away any longer. They are affecting weather patterns in an unpredictable manner and at times causing massive devastation. Can we not mitigate the problems faced by farmers due to nature’s fury?
Can science throw up answers to these and other pressing problems faced by the farmers? How to improve soil fertility? How to make crops climate-resilient and nutrition-efficient? How to improve productivity with less water consumption?
For too long the farmer has been ploughing a lonely furrow, I feel the time has come for all the important stakeholders involved in building a New India, the scientific community in particular, to pay urgent attention to farmers problems and find long-term solutions . It should be remembered that a country like India cannot depend on imported food security. We need to have our own home-grown food security. Unless there are concerted efforts in this direction, I am afraid that more and more people will leave agriculture and shift to other occupations.
I don’t think I need to overemphasize the critical role technology can play in enhancing both the quality and quantity across the agriculture value chain from the use of inputs at the pre-production stage to post-production storage, processing, packaging and marketing to improve the income of farmers.
The use of technology, including ICT, would not only help improve efficiency but would also result in reducing the cost of production. Scientific research should also focus on making advanced machinery for a variety of agricultural activities from spraying to post-harvest handling of produce. Thus, the adoption of modern technology can greatly help to realise our vision to double the income of farmers in the coming years.
Dear sisters and brothers, new technological advances and inventions are changing our lives like never before. No doubt, these advances are making our lives more comfortable and improving the ease of living. At the same time, new challenges are arising—- science must find solutions to problems like increasing urbanization, pollution, urban-rural divide, growing antibacterial resistance, genetic & non-communicable diseases, water scarcity, among others.
We must balance scientific advancement with the protection of environment. We must focus on productivity and efficiency but never forget that the bottom line of all our efforts is improved quality of life not merely greater prosperity.
In fact, that has been the Indian vision of holistic development. I would like to recall what the famous Indian scientist AcharyaJagdish Chandra Bose had said while inaugurating the Bose Institute in 1917, about the multi-disciplinary approach and the inter-related aspects of life where “the lines of physics, physiology and psychology converge.”
In our labs and research centres, in our schools and colleges, we should create an ecosystem for innovation to thrive where “the genius of India should find its true blossoming” as Jagdish Chandra Bose had said.
The need of the hour is to foster the spirit of inquisitiveness, curiosity and scientific temper right from the primary school level.
Science teaching plays an important role in this regard. It must ignite young minds and create a passion for science. Schools must sow the seeds for scientific temper and create an un-quenching curiosity to learn and understand new things.
In short, schools must lay the foundation for the spread of a strong scientific culture in the country. Such a foundation will be the basis for creating an ecosystem for creativity and innovation to thrive. I am happy that Atal Tinkering Labs have been set up in thousands of schools across the country.
I am also glad that India has moved from 81st position in 2015 to 52nd rank in the Global Innovation Index in 2019. Technological innovation is one of the key drivers to boost economy, improve people’s lives and enable better delivery of services. We need to further improve our ranking in the coming years.
There is also a crying need for our universities and scientific institutions to promote R & D on a big scale. The academia-industry linkage has to be expanded not only to provide employment to those coming out of the portals of higher education institutions, but also to promote research and innovation in a big way.
India, like no other country, has a huge demographic dividend waiting to be realized. If we don’t make the big leap forward in terms of quality of learning in our educational institutions, we will have missed a great opportunity.
We have to invest more on R & D and focus on enhancing the intellectual capital through radically new approaches which will have to be forward looking and more receptive to adaptation of the best ideas as well as seeking solutions required for our country and global contexts.. As the Prime Minister, ShriNarendraModi had stated the other day, the mantra should be ‘ Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper’.
I also would like to appeal from this forum to the Corporate India to develop a symbiotic partnership with the universities and other academic institutions and contribute towards promoting R & D.
Dear sisters and brothers,
The India of today is surging forward with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.
As the country aims to become a $ 5 trillion economy in the coming years, we need to fully leverage the demographic advantage with science and technology playing a leading role in driving the economic and social development. On its part, the government has launched several initiatives like Make in India, Digital India and Start Up India to promote indigenous manufacturing, empower people digitally and wealth-creation through innovation. I am sure, senior scientists would be mentoring and hand-holding the young ones to benefit from such schemes and realize their scientific and entrepreneurial potential.
I am happy to note that so many scientists have received ISCA Awards, besides Young Scientists’ Awards, and ISCA Best Poster Awards. It is also a memorable event for many of you who have presented papers in this Science Congress. The practice of senior academics and scientists lending a helping hand to juniors in presenting scientific papers is really praise-worthy. This practice ensures the growth of the community in a healthy way.
A word of appreciation is due to the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru for hosting the event amidst this sylvan setting.
I am sure that this event has provided a wonderful learning opportunity for all of you. I would like to congratulate the organizers led by the General President Prof. K. S Rangappa and Vice Chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru Prof. S Rajendra Prasad and his entire team and also everyone who worked tirelessly to make this 107th Indian Science Congress a grand success.
The success of such congregations lies in the outcomes it generates, in the changed perspectives and renewed commitment to act.
It is successful if it helps to find solutions that are appropriate to our present day challenges without jeopardizing our collective future.
We are witnessing nature’s fury in myriad forms like roaring storms, raging fires, cataclysmic floods, emaciating droughts and rumbling earthquakes. We must all get together and find an answer to the climate change. We must deliver good quality education and healthcare. We must make our cities and villages more livable. These are challenges that need innovative thinking and collaborative action. We live in an interconnected world and we need to learn how to work together to make it a safer, more peaceful and a more sustainable planet.
I would like to conclude my speech by emphasizing that all paths of science must lead to creating a better tomorrow. As we begin the new year and a new decade in our country’s history, we must build on our past and build new bridges through science and technology to a brighter future.
I wish to conclude by quoting again from Bose’s concluding message which is relevant in today’s context as it was in 1917 when his research centre was set up: “We stand here today and resume work tomorrow so that by our efforts of our lives and our unshaken faith in the future, we may all help to build the greater India yet to be”.