By asking the nation’s scientific community to start working for the realisation of vision to transform India into a developed nation by 2020, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam stated the obvious, because the roadmap for achieving the objective had already been prepared and released. Besides, the development of a vaccine for diseases like HIV, TB and water-borne ailments, integrated research in the field of stem cells, a new thrust in the field of space exploration, defence and allied areas also requires immediate attention, followed by an equally result oriented action.
Having made steady but stupendous strides in space research, India can look forward to deriving immense benefits from treks to outer space. Besides spurring the spirit of enquiry in the upcoming scientists, space exploration has already yielded tremendous advantages that impact our daily lives.
There is no denying that space exploration elevates us from our humdrum existence, makes us walk on the cutting edge of technology and takes us to worlds we have never been before. “Mission Moon 2008”, if successful, will enable India to occupy the pride of place among the very few that enjoy the coveted status and stature.
In the making of India an economic power by 2020, if science and technology have a robust role to play, so are the political parties pivotal and potential in achieving the telling target. In a democracy like ours, political parties formulate plans and policies, bureaucrats and officials execute them, but it is the scientists and technocrats who lay firm foundations of infrastructure and other edifices/citadels so vital and vibrant for a nation’s march towards progress and prosperity.
Poverty and illiteracy happen to be the greatest roadblocks in accomplishing the Mission-2020. Hence, eradication of poverty shouldn’t remain a mere slogan, but a targeted mission for those who wield power at different layers of the polity.
Emphasis has to be on five “core” areas for an integrated action- agriculture and food processing, reliable and quality electric power and surface transport, education and healthcare, information and communication technology and strategic sector.
Needless to emphasize that the dream of a developed nation by 2020 would not come true if science was not made an essential part in target achieving measures.
All the top brains that had assembled at the 91st session of the Indian Science Congress were of the opinion that the government should understand its responsibility and start funding research projects and encouraging young scientists so that quality of life could be provided to all. German Nobel laureate Hartmut Michel admitted that governments all over were not serious when it came to science and they should take steps before it got too late.
No dream, whether that of an individual or of society at large, could be realised unless science was given a place of honour in the curriculum. The dwindling interest in the study and research of science is a matter of concern. Statistics tell that the number of students taking up basic science at the graduate level has fallen considerably. “Universities and colleges offering science should attract students employ younger faculty and provide a better study curriculum.
There is need to broad base science research in India. With the opening of dedicated institutes, the Universities have given up research. Besides, Indian industry is reaping more benefits from the academia than it is giving back.
In the end, the industries benefits in monetary terms from what the scientists do, but they (industrialists) are getting this virtually free.” (Professor Goverdhan Mehta, Director, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore). The crying need of the hour is that such aberrations are removed as early as possible.
Happily, the setting up of four National Institutes of Science across the country is a step in the right direction. These institutes would have the state-of-the-art facilities and infrastructure to support scientific research and involve huge investment.
The dream of a developed nation by 2020 would not come true if science was not given its due. Both science and scientific temperament, as is evident in interconnectivity, information technology, biotechnology, more young scientists and an overall development at the grassroots level, are the tools by which the dream can be made a reality.
The Prime Minister’s slogan of Jai Vigyan, to propel the country towards success in all spheres of life and create an India that ‘leads and not follows’, is most timely. Good science is the out-put of good scientists, which entails attracting, nurturing and retaining the brightest and most talented minds, especially young and dreaming minds. The new motto of “India innovates, India leads and India excels” should stir and spur us all if the Vision-2020 is to become a fact of life for all Indians.