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Science, tech to get 2 pc of GDP, says PM
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chidambaram (TN), January 3
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here today that the Central Government intended to raise expenditure on science and technology to 2 per cent of the GDP in the next five years.

He made this announcement while inaugurating the 94th Indian Science Congress at Annamalai University, about 250 km from Chennai.

However, he expressed concern over declining standards of research and said efforts should be made to tap the "vast pool of knowledge" among Indian scientific community.

Dr Singh said, "The global Indian diaspora is a vast pool of knowledge that we must tap, especially in the sciences. We must try and attract the best and brightest of our scientists abroad to return home and participate in the adventure of building a knowledge-based economy here." He said many bright young Indian scientists working abroad in advanced fields of research wish to come home, for varying periods of time.

"We must fully exploit the potential of this reverse brain drain.

Our visa regime, our employment procedures and remuneration systems, especially in universities and in government institutions, must change and respond to facilitate this. Our mindset must change too." The Prime Minister said it was time for the developed countries to realise that they ought to alter their consumption patterns to use less of the planet's resources and asserted that the developing world cannot accept a freeze in "global inequity".

He said, "We in the developing world cannot afford to ape the West in terms of its environmentally wasteful lifestyle. The developing world cannot accept a freeze in global inequity. Developed economies must alter their consumption patterns "so that so few do not draw upon so much of the Earth's resources."

As people in developing countries improved their prospects, per capita consumption in those economies was bound to grow. "As incomes and consumption levels of the poor rise, we must find ways to meet the growing demand for goods and services in an environmentally sustainable manner." He observed that the measures the global community took to protect the environment and deal with climate change should be "equitable in their impact on the development prospect of the developing world".

He asserted that the developing world cannot accept a freeze in "global inequity", adding that it was time developed countries realised that they ought to alter their consumption patterns to use less of the planet's resources.

Dr Singh stressed, "It must be an effort that enables the poor to improve their quality of life, their well-being, their consumption levels without being forced to pay the price for the profligacy and excessive consumption of the rich." Both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Science and Technology Kapil Sibal announced that the Central Government would increase its outlay on science and technology manyfold.

This announcement came few weeks before the Union Budget, much to the happiness of scientists and technocrats who were present there as delegates.

The Prime Minister observed that investment in science and technology was "not an end in itself, nor was it merely a means to advance knowledge and promote development. It should help inculcate a rational and modern outlook, so that we can address the complex problems we face in a rational and humane manner".

He expressed concern over the declining enrolment in schools and colleges in basic science. "The teaching of science and mathematics in our schools ought to be made sufficiently interesting for young people." The Prime Minister stressed the need to make science research "an attractive career option". "Only when students see prospects of early reward and recognition, will they be induced to tread the often lonely and toilsome trail of advanced research."

The Prime Minister also urged scientists and engineers to find alternative sources of energy supply and energy conservation techniques.

He said the management of water resources needed to be addressed since it was the "most important challenge facing mankind".

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