Place : Hyderabad Speech Date :18-01-2011
Winners of the Geospatial Awards, Policymakers, Administrators, Scientists and Leaders of the Geospatial, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen!
I consider it a privilege to be here today among this galaxy of luminaries of the geospatial world. It is also quite exciting for me to give away the Geospatial Awards for excellence in this field. My State and myself feel honoured that the international jury has declared the State of Gujarat as the Premier Geospatial State of India.
Friends ! India is growing very fast and is poised to become one of the three biggest economies in the world. We are blessed with natural resources, a vibrant democracy and a young and energetic population. At the same time, we are a country ever hungry for faster development and we are also prone to disasters. Moreover, we live in a time when global warming and climate change threaten our future. These factors impose strong conditions for utilisation of our resources for development. Science and Technology, thus, has to play a very important role in balancing the conflicting demands of development, disaster management and ecological conservation.
We, in Gujarat, realised this fundamental requirement quite early. We, therefore, made efforts to harness the modern technological developments to our benefit. Gujarat is a unique State in terms of its location and diversity. It has one-third of India's coastline, the biggest wetland - the Rann of Kachch in the west, the Thar Desert to the north, the Aravalli Hills to the east and the Western Ghats in the south. Our unique geography and climate present us the opportunities and also pose the challenges in development process. We realised that the technologies of Space Application could provide us the means to tackle these issues in a coordinated and scientific manner. I feel proud at this moment that Gujarat's famous scientist, Dr Vikram Sarabhai, had the vision and leadership to develop this technology in India. These tools give us the capacity and strength for harvesting our resources and using them efficiently. At the same time, they allow the stakeholders to participate in the development process as informed and empowered actors.
With this thought process, we set up a small centre called Remote Sensing and Communications Centre to harness the technologies of Remote Sensing and Space Communications. Remote sensing gave us the ability to look at our resources in a holistic manner. Soon we realised that a centre was inadequate to handle the tasks on hand. Therefore, we enlarged it to the present Bhaskaracharya Institute of Space Applications and Geoinformatics.
It is better known as BISAG. We have given BISAG a mandate to support the Government departments and institutions for their requirements of satellite communications and geospatial applications. BISAG is also supposed to simultaneously address the issues of capacity building. We are keen that we have on hand a large body of well trained geospatial engineers and scientists.
Our end goal is very clear. We must make our state not only the premier state in India, but a Global model; not only in terms of gross development but also in terms of Technological innovations. Our key stakeholders are our people who live and work in Gujarat tilling its soil and working in its shops, offices and industries. We need to make their quality of life better than earlier; rather better than the best in the world. For this purpose, we had to reduce the wastages and enhance productivity. We looked at different aspects and realised that all planning, implementation and monitoring has a spatial component. These aspects could be addressed with modern geospatial technologies. We also realised that these technologies can be used more effectively in the context of modern development. Therefore, we adopted a holistic approach. We seamlessly integrated diverse data sets from different sources and used them to develop planning models and implementation plans. We have also ensured that our agencies and institutions ‘own' these systems .This has helped us to institutionalise such developments and innovations. Today, in Gujarat, we are quite used to these applications. Even outside planners and administrators are in search of Gujarat's Geo-spatial data whenever there is a problem to be addressed.
Friends! Gujarat's model of Governance is defined by people's partnership in the development process .We could also understand the power of modern communications to help us here. We are using satellite communications to interactively connect the people from the remotest corners of the state. We frequently communicate, discuss our plans and monitor their progress involving the people .Thanks to the technology of the space communications; we have rapidly converted our development into a participative process. As one of the earliest usages, we use the space communications to help us in formal and non-formal education. We use this technology as a ‘teacher in the sky'. This is basically to extend the benefit of top class teachers to the backward institutions and remote areas. We are extensively using the EDUSAT programme to train our students from primary schools to engineering and medical colleges. For us, this is a way of multiplying the benefits of a scarce resource - good teachers.
Friends! We are now at a stage that we can share our achievements with others in the National interest and in the interest of the Humanity. I am always fond of saying that Gujarat's growth is for India's growth. You may be aware that recently, we concluded the Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit. In this Summit, we hosted, among others, thousands of delegates from more than hundred countries . We agreed to and concluded MoUs worth Rs. 20.83 lakh crores– which is around 450 billion US Dollars. These MOUs are for various projects and activities relating to infrastructure, big, large and medium industries as well as knowledge sector including capacity building. Looking back, however, I feel that we missed the luminaries of the geospatial world at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit. In order to rectify this, it is my pleasure to offer a location for India's first Geospatial Technology Park in the Gujarat State.
We are a state with exemplary infrastructure, good work culture and an excellent quality of life. Gujaratis are famous worldwide for their entrepreneurial skills. We are home to many global industries ranging from chemicals to heavy engineering, and of course, Automobile. We would be happy to add geospatial technology to this bouquet. I think such a Park would be the most appropriate addition considering the adoption of this technology in our day to day work .It also looks befitting in view of the recognition you have given us today.
I invite you to Gujarat on both personal and institutional basis. Come and be a part of our growth story.