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Quicken developing scientific knowledge, says PM

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 05:19:20 PM, IANS

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Hyderabad: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday urged developing countries to put science on a pedestal and also stressed the need for collaboration among scientific communities of these countries.

He asked the developing world to make a renewed and determined effort to quicken the pace of developing scientific knowledge and application relevant to its needs.

Inaugurating the 21st general meeting of the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, formerly known as Third World Academy of Sciences (TWAS) here, the prime minister said: "We need to invest in science. We need to invest in scientific infrastructure - in our schools, in our laboratories."

"We need to promote an eco-system that rewards innovation, creativity and excellence."

More than 350 scientists from 60 countries are participating in the four-day meet, which will focus on the scientific achievements in India.

Pointing out that the developing world was constrained by the lack of well-organised systems and critical mass of expertise in its scientific establishments, Manmohan Singh underlined the need for collaboration among scientific communities.

"The problems we cannot solve individually, perhaps we can solve by working together and pool in our knowledge, wisdom and experience together," he said.

"The challenges developing countries face are similar, whether it is in combating tropical diseases, transforming traditional agriculture, or predicting and tackling natural disasters. These problems of under-development do not receive adequate attention in the advanced industrialized countries. Nor should we expect others to solve our problems for us," he said.

Stating that the path of development followed by the industrialised countries has the potential to threaten human existence and way of life, Manmohan Singh said only science can provide an alternative and more sustainable way of developing societies and economies without injuring and destroying the natural bounty of Mother Earth.

"If we can find such a path - that does not unduly constrain our ability to deal effectively and quickly with basic challenges of development, then we should follow it in our enlightened self-interest."

Stating that the impact of climate change is most devastating in the developing world, he noted that many of the scientific processes in the area were dominated by scientists from the advanced countries.

He underlined the need for the concerns of developing countries to be voiced more forcefully.

"As governments we are trying to create greater synergy and coherence in policies among developing countries, but these efforts must be backed by solid technical inputs."

He felt the Academy of Sciences for the Developing World can play a very important role in providing space where scientific collaboration on critical areas such as climate change can be facilitated.

Manmohan Singh called for addressing the issue of sharing of intellectual property rights, saying it sometimes bedevils collaboration on research with relatively immediate commercial applications.

The prime minister said India had committed $40 million towards an Open Source Drug Discovery project of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in India that facilitates collaboration by providing a platform for the mutual sharing of research results, which may be used freely by any participant.

An equivalent amount of funding would be raised from international agencies and philanthropists. The project has already made available the complete sequencing of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome, he said.

The prime minister said India had been a strong advocate of South-South Cooperation on challenges facing the developing world. The India-Brazil-South Africa Forum provides a unique framework of cooperation among three major democracies from three different continents.

"With Africa, we ushered in far-reaching initiatives to strengthen our development partnership following the India-Africa Forum Summit held in New Delhi in 2008, including in the areas of science and technology," he noted.

"India has offered more than 400 scholarships through a specific fellowship named after the Indian Nobel Laureate Dr. C.V. Raman, which will provide support to African researchers and post-doctoral fellows in the field of scientific research."

"To strengthen the institutional framework in science and technology, India has offered to strengthen three institutions in Africa engaged in research activities, which have cross-cutting impact across the African continent," he said.

Minister for Science Prithviraj Chavan, Andhra Pradesh Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan and Chief Minister K. Rosaiah were also present.







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