BENGALURU: President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said India would be happy to collaborate with smaller countries of the Commonwealth to strengthen their scientific and research capabilities.
After inaugurating the Commonwealth Science Conference-2014 at the JN Tata Auditorium at IISc on Tuesday, President Mukherjee said young scientists must be allowed to work with leading laboratories in the world.
The Commonwealth Science Conference is being organised in the country by London’s Royal Society after nearly 50 years and includes members of all commonwealth nations in Asia, Africa, Pacific and Europe.
Mukherjee stressed on improving teaching and teacher quality at all levels, including schools. “We hope to focus on three topics which includes Blue Sky research, research and development on water issues and diseases in India as well as other areas where India can be a leader in the world,” he said.
Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan also spoke in favour of sharing of scientific research. He said, “Advantages should not be guarded selfishly by nations more advanced than others. India is prepared to share our own modest achievements.”
The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, read out a message from Queen Elizabeth II in which she termed the goals of the conference as ‘worthy’ and ‘inspiring’.
Sir Paul Nurse, President of the Royal Society and Nobel laureate (2001), said the world is facing increasing challenges like climate change and food production. “This conference is about encouraging, inspiring and learning from young scientists here today. They will be the next leaders,” Sir Paul said. He also pushed for scientific research to be made a bigger part of the political agenda for Commonwealth countries.
Sir Paul said trust in science can improve with good science. There is a need to identify scientists, educate and support them, give them freedom and protect them from misguided science leaders, he said. He also said, “Scientists must be transparent about their work, their methods and data so that they can be used by others.” He cited the example of keeping genome sequences in the public domain, and how it has lead to huge collaboration and a spurt in genome sequencing.
Prof C N R Rao spoke about his work and when he began to work as a scientist fifty years ago. He said, “India became free when I was in college. My early interests in science was because of people like Pauling. India was poor then. What I could do in India, others could do better in other countries.”
The vote of thanks was delivered by Professor Anthony K Cheetham, vice-president of the Royal Society, who summed up the choice of Bengaluru and India for the conference in a sentence — “We are united by our love for science and cricket.”
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala were present.