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Govt likely to formulate new science, tech policy:PM

Kolkata: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said the government was likely to formulate a new Science and Technology policy within a year to enable capacity building for meaningful development in a decentralised manner. "Over the course of the year, we hope to formulate a new Science and Technology Policy that will update the existing policy document of 2003 in the light of a rapidly changing scientific environment in the country and the world," the Prime Minister said here.

Speaking at the inception ceremony as the general president of the Indian Science Congress Association (ISCA) on its centenary, he said ,"I am happy that we have chosen this centenary year to declare the Year of Science in India." The Prime Minister said, "Our government has invested as never before in Indian science. For many years the capacities in our higher scientific and technical infrastructure were stagnant."

"We built world class institutions that created islands of excellence that created new knowledge. But we did not use science and technology in our development processes as much as we should have," Singh said. "We did not build local capacities that could meaningfully address problems of development in a decentralised manner using this knowledge," he said.

"I believe that the huge expansion in educational infrastructure that this government has overseen will create the building blocks of a modern knowledge economy and, more importantly, society", he said. "Of course we have to overcome many challenges such as producing qualified teachers in adequate numbers, devising a modern curriculum and teaching methods and building proper physical infrastructure. But it is certainly true that we have taken a quantum leap in our ambitions for Indian science," the Prime Minister said.

As part of Centenary Year celebrations of ISCA, there would be the annual session here and three regional science congresses in the north, west and south of the country, the Prime Minister said. "We will organise special sessions on the use of high technology, renewable energy and public health challenges like malnutrition," Singh said adding, "we will emphasise themes that relate science to integrated rural development in the country."

The Prime Minister said "starting from this year, a special scheme for 100 doctoral research fellowships every year will be launched under a public private partnership between Ministry of Science and Technology and the Confederation of Indian Industries." Manmohan Singh said that a well-researched publication on 100 high impact-making discoveries in Indian Science during the last 100 years will be brought out. "We will also launch a Hall of Fame in Cyberspace to portray globally the contribution of Indian science," Singh said.

"Keeping in mind our obligation to promote science internationally and in our own region, we propose to introduce a scheme to invite 25 young scientists from our neighbouring countries to undertake doctoral research in India," he said adding "the department of Science and Technology will work out appropriate arrangements."

Stating that there has been some discussion on the setting up of a Science Academy for the young during the centenary year, he said, "we should follow up on this proposal after due deliberations." The Prime Minister expressed happiness at the efforts to rejuvenate the Indian Science Congress Association through additional building infrastructure and a resource mobilisation drive to create a corpus of Rs 150 crore on the occasion of its Centenary Year.

The Prime Minister began his address by quoting Sir Ashutosh Mukherjee, the legendary vice-chancellor of Calcutta University, as "even the most enlightened governments occasionally require to be reminded of the full extent of the paramount claims of science upon the public funds." He concluded by quoting Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who said at the the meeting of the Indian Science Congress in 1938 "even more than the present, the future belongs to those who make friends with science."

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