Sunday, June 03, 2012

Our scientists should speak out, says PM; Scientists ask Centre to cut red tape to aid research

Apprehensive that the “growing culture of narrow mindedness” may affect the creative, innovative and imaginative instincts of the youth, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has urged scientists to “speak out and make more effective contributions to an informed and reasoned debate on the issues before the nation.”

“In recent times, I have been observing a growing intolerance among our people of dissent and opinions that contradict the prevailing orthodoxy. We seem to be losing the ability to engage in [a] rational discourse, where different points of view are expressed,” he said at an event organised at the University of Calcutta on Saturday to mark the inception ceremony of the Indian Science Congress Association's centenary session.

Dr. Singh said Indian civilisation had a tradition of promoting conciliation, accommodating different views, identities and cultural differences; there was a need to strengthen “these impulses through the propagation of a scientific temper and an enlightened understanding of freedom of expression.”

“Public debate is often hostage to sensationalism,” he said. Urging scientists to speak out, Dr. Singh said the voice of the doyens of the scientific community should be heeded. “The voice of our scientists is important and should be heard.”

Admitting that for many years, the capacities of scientific and technical institutes were stagnant, he said the country did not use science and technology for development as it should have. “We did not build local capacities that could meaningfully address the problems of development in a decentralised manner using the language.” Calling for the use of India's abundant intellectual resources to find new pathways of development, Dr. Singh said the burden of science would only increase in future. “Our problems are overwhelming, and need scientific solutions.”

Scientists ask Centre to cut red tape to aid research
Scientists, in a short interaction with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday, urged him to ensure easing of procedures so as to give research a boost. Choosing to have a talk with scientists rather than deliver a speech at the foundation stone-laying ceremony of a unified campus of the Bose Institute, Dr. Singh met them after the function. Two groups of scientists — one of research students and another of young faculty members — were present during the session.

Scientists explained to the Prime Minister how red tape was hampering research and demoralising scientists. They said quick imports of chemicals and reagents were needed and urged the government to hasten various procedures so as to make post-doctoral work easy. “He urged us not to move from India to the West,” said a scientist of the Bose Institute.

Earlier, the Prime Minister laid the foundation stone of the unified academic campus, which would entail a Rs. 1 billion project for bringing under a single roof all academic activities of this premier institute. Writing in the visitors' book, Dr. Singh said: “Acharya Jagadish Bose was a pioneer in ushering in a new area of modern science in our country. May his shining example of dedication to science continue to inspire our people for ages to come.”

Source: The Hindu, June 3, 2012
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