Indian Academy of Sciences Bengaluru is organizing its 81st Annual Meeting from 6–8 November 2015 at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Pune. The meeting is being hosted by IISER in association with CSIR-NCL and NCCS. On the first day i.e. November 6, public lecture was given by Bharat Ratna C.N.R. Rao. Mr Rao has worked mainly in solid-state and structural chemistry. He currently serves as Head of the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India. On February 4, 2014 the Government of India announced his selection for Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, making him the third scientist after C.V. Raman and Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to receive the award. He was recently honored with Japan’s Highest Civilian Award.
While speaking at the 81st annual meeting on Friday, he laid emphasis over the fact that the funding that is being provided to the research institutes has cut down drastically in past few years and hence research works have gone through a very bad situation. He said, “Even the scientists too have failed to pick up problems of relevance. In India the education which is considered as the most important element of social well-being, has never got much importance. To say we spend 2 percent GDP on education. However the 2 percent is invested only on all primary, middle school etc, one can really imagine what is being invested on higher education. Answer is – very very little.”
He was also of the view that in country like India, big science is given too much importance rather than the small science. The small time researchers should be given start-up money of Rs 5 lakh to Rs 10 lakh to start their own research without much paper work. He said that former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was convinced about that. Small science is the one that helps society.
Rao also pointed out that the country should stop throwing out old people who have done excellent work as their knowledge is important for the nation. He also talked about need to completely revamp old and outdated syllabus in the universities across the country to improve the education system.
Rao who is also the Honorary President of Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, further said, “They tell you about 0.8, 0.9 per cent of GDP being spent on science. But what they don’t tell you is where this money is going. Most of it is going in atomic energy, space, DRDO, what are you getting? Fundamental research, basic research which is the foundation of all that we do today, that gets almost nothing.”
He added, “Last year many of our institutions budgets were cut. The cut still continues. The total money required to make up for the deficiencies of the budgets of all institutions put together, I calculated, it comes to around Rs 1,500 crores. It is trivial money for India, but nobody cares; so these budget deficiencies are continuing. I hope the government will change and make up for the deficiency.”
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