HRD minister praises Bengaluru for strides in science

Union minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Prof Anurag Kumar, IISc Director visit a lab at IISc's new chemical sciences building on Thursday. DH photo/Janardhan B K

The Minister of Human Resource Development, Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, visited the city on Thursday, with two primary objectives in mind: kick-start a new learning programme and inaugurate a research building.

However, while Pokhriyal praised the city’s scientific community, especially those at Indian Institute of Science for “their good work,” the normally talkative minister proved unusually cryptic when it came to offering specifics about what these inaugurals augured for the future of science in the country.

In the morning, Pokhriyal welcomed 60 students, specially chosen to be part of ‘Dhruv’ — a learning programme initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create future industry leaders — at the headquarters of the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro).

The select students from various schools and various backgrounds, including mathematics, science and art, will spend the next 14 days brainstorming “on challenges such as climate change, glacial meltdown, water conservation and agricultural problems,” Pokhriyal said in a statement.

Elaborating on this in a subsequent speech during the inauguration of a new research building for the Department of Chemical Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), the minister added that both ‘Dhruv’ and the new chemistry building were part of an overarching effort by the government to make India a $5 trillion economy.

The new building will house three chemistry departments — Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Solid-State and Structural Chemistry Departments,

The building, to be built at Rs 49 crore, is expected to become operational by the summer of 2020.

While Pokhriyal expressed optimism that the building would elevate scientific breakthroughs at IISc, a scientist speaking at the ceremony highlighted the fact that further scientific developments are not possible without an increase in funding.

“Due to the advancing nature of scientific research, funding must be increased to acquire a multitude of high-end instruments which are critical to research,” he said.

According to Professor P K Das, chair of chemical sciences division, the building will house 60 faculty members and 500 researchers.

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