Jalandhar: India must be wary of driving growth in technological applications, at the cost of basic research, highlighted the Nobel laureates as they set down for a ‘chai pe charcha’ with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the first day of the 106th Indian Science Congress here. The prestigious five-day congress began on Thursday, with the inaugural address of PM Modi. The address was followed by an interactive session of the Prime Minister with the three Nobel Laureates including Prof Thomas Sudoph, Prof Avram Hershko and 2016 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Professor Duncane Haldane.

Professor Sudoph, 2013 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology or Medicine said he tried to express that it was important to have a fundamental science culture, in order to develop technological applications.

Highlighting that many countries are putting too much focus on developing technological applications, really quickly, so that industry can develop and economy can grow, Professor Sudoph said, India has enormous potential, but huge challenges.

“In a country like India, the temptation is really big, to do away with science and do only technology-based or application-based research. It is unlikely to be a positive strategy because its based on taking results that other already have. So, you are always behind. It is like floating on thin air," he told MINT on the sidelines of the event.

Professor in Molecular and Cellular Physiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Sudoph had won Nobel for discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in cells.

“Prime Minister Modi appears to know that a country like India needs to maintain a knowledge-based culture in order to experience continuous economic growth which comes from new technologies. But it requires good universities and focus on basic sciences, even if that research does not translate it into technology," he said.

Another Nobel Laureate Professor Avram Hershko said he urged the Prime Minister to ensure more investment in medical sciences.

“India needs a lot of investment in basic research in medical science. It is a huge country and public health is a major concern. The need is to put in more investment in medical research so that newer methods of treatment and diagnosis can be discovered," said Professor Hershko, who won the 2004Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry.

The noted scientists said they were impressed by the degree of understanding shown by the Prime Minister in matters of science. “A smart politician understands that science can give a lot of benefits to the society," said Professor Hershko who is on his first visit to India.

The Hungarian-born Israeli biochemist had won the Nobel Prize with two others for their joint discovery of the mechanism by which the cells of most living organisms remove unwanted proteins.

The three Nobel laureates are among the key speakers at the five-day annual congress, which is held every year and witnesses participation from scientists from across the world. This year, as many as 15,000 delegates are attending the congress including researchers and science policymakers.

Later in the day, the Nobel laureates delivered lectures on their research areas to a gathering of students from across all streams. Urging students to focus on content of their research work, than the number of publications, the scientists said the universities must focus on the real discovery and actual work. “One paper can be more important than ten. It is depends on what is in there. The content matters," said Professor Thomas.