Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called upon the scientific community to connect with people and commit themselves to address problems ranging from affordable healthcare and housing to clean air, water, energy and agricultural productivity.

Inaugurating the 106th session of the India Science Congress here, he said, “the pursuit of science is fulfilled through achievement of two objectives – generation of profound or disruptive knowledge and use of such knowledge for socio-economic good. As we boost our discovery science system, we must also focus on innovation and startups”.

In this context, he recalled that the government had launched the Atal Innovation Mission to promote innovation among scientists. “More technology business incubators have been established in the last four years than the forty years before that”.

He drew attention to recent developments in cutting-edge areas like big data analysis, artificial intelligence and blockchain and said these technologies need to be utilised especially to help farmers with relatively small farm holdings. “Scientists need to work to promote ease of living for the people”, he said. He also announced that the government had allocated Rs 3600 crore for the national mission on cyber-physical systems.

The Prime Minister urged scientists to work for time-bound solutions for drought management in low rainfall areas, early warning systems for natural disasters, tackling of malnutrition and diseases like encephalitis that affect children, besides cybersecurity and cleaner energy and drinking water.

Mr Modi emphasised the need for creation of stronger pathways for better commercialisation of research and development outputs of scientific institutions and a research system that fused arts and humanities and social sciences with science and technology.

He drew the attention recently launched Prime Minister’s Research Fellows Scheme under which 1000 bright minds from the best institutions in the country are being offered direct admission to PhD programmes in Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institute of Science.

Minister for science and technology Dr Harsh Vardhan paid tributes to the contributions made by Hargobind Khorana, Birbal Sahni, Kalpana Chawla and other scientists from Punjab.

The Congress, with the theme of ‘Future India: Science and Technology’, will feature a range of plenary sessions, invited talks as well as special sessions for women scientists and school children. The participants include three Nobel laureates and top science policy makers, administrators and scientists.

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