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The future will be shaped by societies that invest in science and innovation, says Modi
New Delhi, October 20, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that the future would be shaped by societies that invest in science and innovation and called for collaboration and public participation in such efforts as science will never prosper in silos.
Delivering the keynote address at Grand Challenges Annual Meeting 2020, he said the benefits of science and innovation can be reaped at the right time by investing in them well in advance.
“The future will be shaped by societies that invest in science and innovation. But this cannot be done in a short-sighted manner. One has to invest in science and innovation well in advance. That is when we can reap the benefits at the right time. Similarly, the journey to these innovations must be shaped by collaboration and public participation.
“Science will never prosper in silos. The Grand Challenges Programme has understood this ethos well. The scale of this programme is commendable. In 15 years, you have engaged with several nations globally. The nature of the issues addressed is diverse. You have combined bright global talent to address problems such as antimicrobial resistance, maternal and child health, agriculture, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene. And many others are welcome initiatives,” he added.
“It has taken a global pandemic to make us realise yet again the importance of teamwork. After all, diseases do not have geographic boundaries. Diseases do not discriminate on the grounds of faith, race, gender or colour. And, by diseases, I am not only talking about the current pandemic situation. Several communicable and non-communicable diseases are impacting people, especially, bright youngsters,” he noted.
Referring to the availability of talent in India, he said, “In India, we have a strong and vibrant scientific community. We also have very good scientific institutions. They have been our greatest assets, especially during the last several months, while fighting COVID-19. From containment to capacity building, they have achieved wonders," he said.
Modi said the COVID-19 death rate in India was very low despite the large population due to the people-powered and people-driven approach.
“Today, there is a decline in the number of cases per day, decline in the growth rate of cases and has one of the highest recovery rates of 88 %. This happened because India: was one of the first countries to adopt a flexible lockdown, was one of the first to encourage the usage of masks, actively began to work on effective contact-tracing and was one of the earliest to deploy the rapid antigen tests,” he said.
The Prime Minister said India was now at the forefront of vaccine development for COVID. More than 30 indigenous vaccines were being developed in the country and three of them were in an advanced stage.
India was already working on putting a well-established vaccine delivery system in place and this digitised network along with digital health ID will be used to ensure immunisation of the citizens. He pointed out that India is known for its proven capacity to produce quality medicines and vaccines at a low cost. More than 60% of the Vaccines for Global Immunisation were being manufactured in India.
“We included Indigenous Rotavirus Vaccine in our Indradhanush Immunisation programme. This is a successful example of a strong partnership/ for long-lasting results. The Gates Foundation has also been a part of this particular effort. With India’s experience and research talent, we will be at the centre of global healthcare efforts. We want to help other nations enhance their capacities in these sectors,” he added.
Modi listed several interventions made in the past six years like better sanitation, improved cleanliness, more toilet coverage which has contributed to a better healthcare system.
"This has helped the women, the poor and the under-privileged leading to a reduction in diseases. He listed the efforts of the Government in ensuring disease reduction and bringing better healthcare to the villages like providing piped drinking water to every household, setting up medical colleges in rural areas and running the world’s largest health insurance scheme," he said.
The meeting that was scheduled to be held in India, was held in the virtual mode following the pandemic situation. It was attended by Melinda and Bill Gates, Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan and delegates from across the world comprising scientists, innovators, researchers and students.