Science & Technology

Indian Science Congress: assessing progress and challenges

By Jigyasa Watwani
Published: Thursday 07 January 2016
Photo: PIB India
Photo: PIB India Photo: PIB India

‘Discover and invent before making in India’

Gross said basic sciences are important to satisfy one’s curiosity and produce novel technology (Photo: Jigyasa Watwani)

Indians must invest in curiosity-driven science as much as technology-driven science, according to Nobel laureate in Physics, David Gross.

Speaking at the ongoing Indian Science Congress in Mysuru, Gross said, “Nature is smarter than we are in posing good questions for research. To say that we should put all our resources into technology-driven science is to say that we are smarter than nature.”

Gross said that basic sciences are important to satisfy one’s curiosity and produce novel technology. He gave the example of quantum mechanics, which was not pursued by people interested in technology. But now, it has become the basis of modern technology in the form of transistors, lasers and ICs (integrated circuits).

While Gross lauded Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative, “Make in India”, he cautioned that making in India must be preceded by inventing in India, which, in turn, must be preceded by discovering in India.

While China’s Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) as a percentage of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) jumped from 0.8 per cent in 2000 to 1.8 per cent in 2010, India’s has remained stagnant at 0.8 per cent during the same time period. In comparison, Brazil, the US and South Korea invest nearly 1.25 per cent, 2.8 per cent and 3.7 per cent of their GDPs on research and development.

“Politicians claim they will ensure that India’s investment in R&D is raised to at least two per cent at every Science Congress, but nothing comes out of it,” Gross said.

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