My Cabinet colleague Dr. Harsh Vardhan ji, Department's National President Dr. Vijay Bhatkar ji, respected scientists, ladies and gentlemen!
Festivals are the character, temperament and the tradition of India. We are celebrating science at this festival today. We are also celebrating the human spirit that constantly encourages us to innovate.
India has a rich legacy in science, technology and innovation. Our scientists have done path breaking research. Our tech industry is at the fore-front of solving global problems. But, India wants to do more. We look at the past with pride but want an even better future.
India is emphasizing on basics for the same. Who would know better than all of you that the best time to develop scientific temper is during childhood. Today Structural Reforms are being brought to the Education System of India, so that the Spirit of Inquiry can be promoted by going beyond book knowledge. The country has received the National Education Policy after a long time of 3 decades. With this policy, the focus of the education sector has changed.
The focus before was on Outlays but now it is on Outcomes. Previously the focus was on studying textbooks, now on research and application. The new National Education Policy is also focusing on creating an environment in the country so that a pool of top quality teachers can be developed in the country. This approach will also help and encourage our new and emerging scientists.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Atal Innovation Mission has also been started to supplement these changes which are being brought to the education sector. This mission celebrates Inquiry, Enterprise, Innovation in a way. Under this, Atal Tinkering Labs are being set up in many schools across the country, which are proving to be new Playgrounds of Innovation. With these labs, the science related infrastructure in our schools is getting better. Atal Incubation Centers are being set up for Higher Education, so that the R&D ecosystem in the country turns better. Similarly, emphasis is also being laid on starting more and better engineering colleges and IITs.
The government is also running the Prime Minister's Research Fellowship Scheme for Quality Research. The aim is to ensure that the best talent of the country should get more facilities to conduct research on a field of his choice. This scheme is providing considerable financial help to the students in all the IITs of the country, all the IISERs, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and some Central Universities and NITs. Some changes have been made in the scheme 6-7 months ago so that students studying in other recognized institutes and universities of the country could also get the benefit of it.
I have had discussions with many scientists over the last few months. Recently India has also hosted Vaibhav Summit. In this month-long summit, scientists and researchers of Indian origin from all over the world were gathered on one platform. About 23 thousand people had taken part in it. Discussions were held for more than 700 hours. I also had a conversation with many scientists. In this conversation, most of them had emphasized two things. These two things are - Trust and Collaboration. The country is working in this direction today.
All our efforts are aimed at making India the most trustworthy centre for scientific learning. At the same time, we want our scientific community to share and grow with the best of global talent. No wonder India has become very active in hosting and participating in Hackathons. They are held in India and abroad. It gives both exposure and opportunity to our scientists.
Science and Technology are incomplete until its Benefits and Access reach everyone. In the last 6 years, the use of science and technology has expanded in the country to help connect youth with opportunities. Science and Technology is now becoming a major bridge filling the gap of lack and influence in India. With its help, for the first time, even the poorest of the poor have been directly connected with the system. Digital technology has also given strength to ordinary Indians and has assured of direct & fast delivery of government assistance. Today the number of Internet users in the village has exceeded that of the cities. The poor farmer of the village is also making digital payment! Today a large population of India has joined Smartphone based apps. Today India is becoming the center of both Evolution and Revolution of Global High-tech Power.
India is now ready to create and adopt high-tech solutions to provide world class education, health, connectivity to every poor and village. India also has Data, Demography, Demand for High-tech Highway and Democracy to handle, balance and protect all these. That is why the world trusts India so much today.
Recently, the PM-Wani Scheme has been launched to further expand the Digital India campaign. This will make quality Wi-Fi connectivity possible for all in the public space across the country. Science will also have its direct benefit because the youth of the country's village will also be able to easily acquire the best scientific knowledge of the world.
There are many challenges in our country like Water Scarcity, Pollution, Soil Quality, Food Security, which modern science has a solution to. Science plays a major role in rapidly exploring the treasure of water, energy and food in our seas. Just as we succeeded in the space sector, similarly we have success in the field of Deep Sea. India is also running a Deep Ocean Mission for this.
Whatever new we are achieving in science will benefit commerce and business as well. For example, with the reforms made in the Space Sector, we are encouraging our youth, and the private sector of the country, to touch not only the sky but also the heights of the infinite space. The new Production Linked Incentive Scheme has also been focused on sectors related to science and technology. Such steps will strengthen the scientific community and the ecosystem associated with science. Moreover, technology will also improve. This will generate more resources for innovation. This will create a new culture of partnership between science and industry. Whether it is Hydrogen Economy, Blue Economy, or the use of Artificial Intelligence, new collaborations will lead to new avenues. I believe that this festival will give new dimensions to the Spirit of Coordination and Collaboration between Science and Industry.
Currently, the biggest challenge facing science may be a vaccine for COVID pandemic. However, this is a challenge for now. The biggest long term challenge science faces is to attract high quality youngsters and retain them. Often, the domain of technology and engineering seems more attractive to the youth than pure science. However, for any country to develop, it needs science to power it. Because, as they say: what is called science today becomes the technology of tomorrow and an engineering solution later.
So, the cycle must start with attracting good talent into our science domain. For this, the government has announced scholarships at various levels. But it needs a big out-reach from within the science community as well. The excitement surrounding Chandrayaan Mission was a great starting point. We saw a lot of interest from youngsters. Our future scientists will come from there. All we need to do is inspire them.
Through this gathering I want to invite the global community to invest in Indian talent and innovate in India. India has the brightest minds. India celebrates a culture of openness and transparency. The Government of India stands ready to address any challenge and improve the research environment here.
Science brings out the capabilities and the best within the person. This is the spirit we have seen in our scientists working for the Covid vaccine. Our scientists have kept us ahead, in a better position in the fight against Corona.
Two thousand years ago, the sutrakavya or the mantra given by the great Tamil saint and social reformer Thiruvalluvar ji is still extremely accurate and relevant today. He had said- 'In sandy soil, when deep you delve, you reach the springs below; The more you learn, the freer streams of wisdom flow.' That is, the deeper you dig in the sandy soil, you will definitely reach the water one day. Just like, one day you are certain to reach the flow of knowledge and intelligence with a greater learning.
I urge all of you to never let this process of learning and gaining knowledge stop. The more you learn, the more you develop your skills, the more you will develop yourself as well as the country. Let this spirit continue to grow. Let Science continue to give energy to the development of India and the whole world. Wish you all the very best with this very belief!
Thank you. Thank you very much!