President Ram Nath Kovind today said the true test of scientific research lies in its ability to help the society leapfrog social sector gaps, whether in health and hygiene, sanitation, education or agriculture.
Addressing the concluding ceremony of the platinum jubilee celebrations of the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Mr Kovind said it was very creditable that the staff of CSIR constitutes only about three to four percent of India’s scientific manpower but contributes nearly 10 percent of India’s scientific output.
This emphasises how important CSIR is to the nation-building process. When a scientist works hard in the lab, with integrity and sincerity and with the larger dream of helping society, he or she is playing the role of nation builder, he said.
“From the earliest days of our Independence, our country has been clear about the use and deployment of science and technology to achieve the goals of social development. This has meant both exploiting India’s rich wealth of traditional knowledge and intellectual property – of which CSIR is the custodian – as well as being open to the latest in science and technology, not being afraid of cutting-edge research and its discoveries, and where possible using these to help our common citizens.
“This aspiration remains important as ever, as we strive to achieve a New India by 2022 when we complete 75 years as a free country,” he added.
The President said ambitious national programmes – such as Start-up India, Make in India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat, Namami Gange and the Smart Cities Mission – cannot be successful without scientists and technology incubators, particularly CSIR, contributing.
“The true test of scientific research lies in its ability to help our society leapfrog social sector gaps, whether in health and hygiene, sanitation, education or agriculture and make us a middle-income country in one human lifetime,” he added.
The President said none of the developmental goals has any meaning without gender parity. The participation of women in science in the country is distressingly small. Less than two of every 10 scientific researchers in India are women. Of those who join the Indian Institutes of Technology each year, just about 10 percent are women.
“These numbers are simply not acceptable. We have to take accelerated steps to promote the participation of girl students and of women in science and technology,” he added.
Mr Kovind said he had just visited an exhibition of significant achievements of CSIR researchers and technologists. It was extremely impressive. CSIR has been instrumental in bringing about sustainable improvements in the quality of life of our fellow citizens, as well as in helping business and industry with specific applications of science and technology.
“In the areas of food and agriculture, generic drugs, leather, chemicals and petrochemicals, and biopharmaceuticals, among others, several technologies developed by you have been embraced by the market,” he added.
“In this context, I am pleased to note the wider social benefits of the two CSIR technologies that are being dedicated to the nation today. The first is a hand-held milk tester that will allow us to more easily identify adulterants in milk.
"The second is Waterless Chrome-Tanning Technology that eliminates the use of water in two processes before and after tanning – and also reduces the solids dissolved in wastewater during tanning. This has an obvious environmental impact,” Mr Kovind said.
“I have also been informed that CSIR’s anaerobic digester is making a big difference to the Swachh Bharat mission, as it converts biodegradable kitchen waste to biogas and manure that can be used for family kitchen gardens. Each anaerobic digester has the capacity to convert up to three kg waste per day and produce 400 litre of biogas, which can be used as a clean fuel.
“Another commendable CSIR creation I have been told about is DivyaNayan - a reading device for the visually challenged. Inventions and innovations such as these provide simple and user-friendly solutions to the most underprivileged and deprived sections of our people. They make science and technology so meaningful – and I should say potentially so magical – as India seeks to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.