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P M BHARGAWA
former director, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad
The scientific advisors are too scared to take any constructive step. So it does not matter whether they are from the defence field. In no way is this conference representative of the excellence of Indian scientific research. Bringing scientists together does not ensure a better and more accessible health care system. We can see that the present health system is a disaster. But even within the existing framework it is possible to take care of the health requirements of the people. It has been demonstrated in Maharashtra that 95 per cent of the ailments can be taken care at the local level and only five per cent need specialist care. At the cost of a mere Rs 150 per
person per year, it is possible to take care of health of Indians. Clearly, we have
the solutions but we do not implement them. The health issues do not galvanise the government into action.
P K SETH
director, Industrial Toxicology Reseach Centre, Lucknow
It is evident that we are not prepared to meet the health requirements of the country. The rural areas just do not have health care facilities. More money is obviously required. Funds should be enhanced and implications of environmental problems should also be studied. It is necessary that we have proper investment, proper data and trained people. Basic research is important and this has to be done by the government.
professor, department of molecular reproduction, development and genetics, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore
The government has a huge financial stake in the pursuit of scientific research. Society, as a whole, has an even larger in health and education. The Prime Minister should have seized the opportunity to articulate his views on how to use scientific approaches in meeting these demands. Instead he focused on terrorism. It was a wrong occasion to express such sentiments. The PM could have called for a war on the unhygienic conditions, lack of drinking water and on the sad state of medical care for the underprivileged. He could have sensitized the country to the disaster in store if we persist with the current course. A disaster that will make nonsense of every other plan that he has - including the plan to eradicate terrorism. To be sure he did speak about supporting agriculture-related research by bringing in biotechnology and information technology - our latest mantras. But one gets the impression that the main thrust of his speech was on terrorism. What he chose not to say was an opportunity missed.
ARUN KUMAR ATTRI
professor, School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Indian Science Congress is a mela where people gather to chase awards. Last year's theme was on infrastructural issues but without accomplishing it, we continue to change the theme. One should realise that terrorism is
a result of bad infrastructure. Biotechnology research in India is third rate and is nowhere in the world map. The reason for this pathetic condition of scientific research in India is over promise and no accountability. There is no yardstick to measure scientists either by the funding agencies or the government.
professor, department of physics and astrophysics, University of Delhi
An annual ritual which must surely rank amongst the most non-productive meetings of science. Similar meetings are held in other countries too. But nowhere is the focus so diffuse and the platform used by a set of scientific bureaucrats to hog the limelight. We have the distinction of having possibly the second largest human resource base in science and technology. Yet, the quality of our science is pathetic. By and large, the scientists are demotivated by lack of infrastructure, a creative environment and genuine appreciation of their work. We need to encourage the huge numbers of scientific workers who work in smaller institutions to be more active in their fields. Replacing the Indian Science Congress with smaller, regional or even state level meetings may provide some hope in the otherwise bleak scenario.