Modi rues lack of research at state universities

Modi rues lack of research at state universities

Prime Minister Narendra Modi being received by Punjab Governor VP Singh Badnore on his arrival, in Jalandhar. PTI photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday ruled that lack of research in state college and universities came in the way of India taking a leadership position in R&D to emerge as one of the world’s top three knowledge economies.

“Close to 95% of our students go to state college and universities where the scope of research is still limited. I have asked the Prime Minister’s Council on Science, Technology and Innovation to discuss the issues with the Human Resource Development Ministry and formulate an action to boost research in colleges,” Modi said while inaugurating the 106th session of the Indian Science Congress.

The Prime Minister flagged one of the fundamental problems being faced by the Indian research establishment for decades – decline in the quality of research and education in state institutions where the bulk of the students go.

“Our strengths in R&D are built on the backbone of our national laboratories, central universities, Indian Institute of Technologies; Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru,  Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai and Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research. However, over 95% of our students go to state universities and colleges,” he said.

Modi asked scientists to use their research to solve people’s problems and connect with the masses. “Science needs to be connected to the common man. India should not wait for others to find out technical solutions to India’s problems. Indian scientists have to take a leadership role,” he said at the Congress being hosted by the Lovely Professional University.

“Our scientists must commit themselves to address problems of affordable healthcare, housing, clean air, water, energy, agricultural productivity and food processing. While science is universal, technology must be local for providing solutions to local needs and conditions,” the Prime Minister said.

Taking a cue from his predecessors Lal Bahadur Shastri and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Modi said the slogan of “Jai Jawan, Jai Kishan and Jai Vigyan” should now be extended to “Jai Anushandhan (Hail Research).” While Shastri coined the first portion of the slogan, Vajpayee added Jai Vigyan (Hail Science) after the 1998 Pokhran nuclear tests.

Punjab Chief Minister skips the event

In what appears to be a violation of protocol, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh skipped the 106th session of the Indian Science Congress here at the campus of Lovely Professional University here.

While Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore was on the dais, the Congress Chief Minister didn’t turn up at the inauguration of the event.

Generally, Chief Ministers turn up on the first day of the Science Congress – traditionally kick-started by the Prime Ministers – even though they belong to two different political camps.

From Jalandhar, Modi flew to Gurdaspur to address a political rally and blew the poll bugle in the northern state.

Nearly 20,000 researchers from 60 countries will attend India’s largest congregation of scientists in 2019. The previous edition at Imphal in March 2018 was a curtailed after Andhra University, which was to host the session, backed out at the last moment.