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Business News/ Opinion / Online-views/  Ourview | The missing revolution
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Ourview | The missing revolution

Ourview | The missing revolution

Jayachandran/MintPremium

Jayachandran/Mint

The needlessly harsh remarks by the mild-mannered Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against activist groups opposing the nuclear power project at Kudankulam and biotechnology products such as Bt brinjal have led to the usual public row. The intemperate accusations are a self-goal, because Singh’s main remarks in an interview to Science magazine about how important scientific advance is for a country such as ours can hardly be faulted.

Jayachandran/Mint

Neither of these tasks is simple. Local communities have good reason to worry about nuclear reactors in their vicinity, all the more so after the Fukushima meltdown. Nor would we like to dismiss the concerns about genetically modified food, though putting Bt brinjal in the cold storage for more than two years after it was cleared by scientists makes little sense. But to even recognize that technology is part of the answer for important national problems is a useful first step.

Strengthening our scientific infrastructure is essential. At the recent Indian Science Congress, Singh had said that spending on research and development will be pushed up from the current $3 billion to $8 billion by 2017. There are also some initial attempts to attract global Indian scientific talent back home, building what have been described as innovation universities, setting up new laboratories, and creating a funding agency modelled on the US National Science Foundation. Each of these initiatives is welcome. More are needed.

As important as putting money on the job is creating the right culture for scientific talent to bloom, both in making it more socially prestigious to pursue pure science and ensuring that university departments are run on professional lines. “In our country, the educated are not innovative and the innovative are not educated," Sabyasachi Bhattacharya of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research told Forbes India magazine. It is time we moved from the glorification of jugaad to the celebration of true scientific innovation.

What hampers scientific innovation in India? Tell us at views@livemint.com

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Published: 27 Feb 2012, 10:55 PM IST
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