• Engineers and industry have over the decades developed applications which have tremendously improved the lives of the common people, but one must never forget that all these would not have been possible but for new concepts developed with the help of research in basis sciences. Countries like USA have become super powers in the 20th century purely due to the perfect sync between basic science research, the government and the industry. Now China has emerged a perfect example of an aspiring super power riding on this strong nexus. India needs to follow suit, if it is to realise its vision to be counted among the world powers. So said Prof. (Dr.) Sunil Mukhi, Chair, Physics programme, Indian Institute of Science, Education and Research, (IISER) Pune, on Monday. He was delivering a lecture on “The Social Relevance of Basic Science” on the inaugural day of the three-day Chandigarh Science Congress CHASCON-2018, organized by Panjab University, Chandigarh in association with Chandigarh Region Innovation and Knowledge Cluster (CRIKC). The topic of the Congress this year is “Exploration Of Cost Effective Technologies Through Physical And Natural Sciences”

Giving examples from the past of the discovery of x-ray, laser, etc which have gone a long way in positively influencing mankind in a massive way, he felt that the political leadership of the country needs to look way ahead into the future, instead of being influenced largely by short term considerations, for taking the country forward on the road to greatness.

Photo By : Life In Chandigarh

Suggesting a change in the slogan “Make In India”, coined by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to “Discover, Invent & Make In India”, Prof. Mukhi strongly advocated established researchers involving the science students at the undergraduate level in their research projects and gave a few examples of path-breaking successes achieved within the country due to such team work.

Replying to a question regarding brain drain, he said his personal experience was that a lot of Indian origin scholars who had done wonderfully well in some of the advanced country were keen on returning to the country and contributing their bit. “Many have already returned. But the problem is that they need an enabling environment to begin afresh. It is for the government, universities, research institutions and the industry to timely back them up with resources for undertaking meaningful research and innovations, well before they start regretting their decision to relocate,” he added.

 Dr. M.K. Verma, Principal Scientist, Union Ministry of Agriculture, in his lecture on “Role of Fruits and Vegetables in Sustaining Health and Nutritional Security” felt that the country had done remarkably well in increasing horticultural produce to become the second largest producer in the world. A healthy mix and fruits and vegetables could help go a long way in drastically reducing the alarmingly high incidence of child deaths in the country due to under nourishment. Figures show that 3,000 children, 79 percent under 5 years of age, die every day in the country, he added.

Earlier, in his keynote address, Dr. Manjit Singh, Director Terminal Ballistics Research Laboratory (TBRL) while expressing concern over the massive depletion due to overexploitation of fossil fuels generated by Nature over millions of years, felt that the country should focus on developing sustainable technologies to stop further degradation of the Earth.

During his lecture he gave the examples of the newest technologies developed by some of the National institutes for effective solid and bio waste management. He said that the Institute for Plasma Research, Gandhinagar had developed the Plasma Pyrolysis Technology, which was capable of decomposing any type of waste irrespective of its chemical composition using extremely high temperatures to vaporise it into gases which could further be utilised to generate energy.

The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO)’s Bio-digester technology had also proved very successful in tackling bio waste in high altitude climates in Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, etc. It had also been adopted by the Railways in its bio toilets and by the Lakshadweep administration, Dr. Manjit Singh added.

Prof. Arun K. Grover, Vice Chancellor, Panjab University, in his address
informed that recently Department of Science and Technology, Government of India had
asked CRIKC to expand its reach and assume the role of cluster for the entire North Western Region. The need of the hour is that there should be a societal benefit of the
scientific research and this can emerge only if industry-academia interaction is
improved, he added. 

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