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Aug 22, 2011

PM's speech at Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata

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The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has attended the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata the other day. Here is the text of Dr. Singh’s address at the institute:

I am delighted to have this opportunity to be amidst you here on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics. On this special and historic occasion, I heartily felicitate each and every one of you who have associated with the development of this magnificent institution and I congratulate you on your many splendid achievements.

The establishment of this Institute would not have been possible but for the far-sighted vision of Professor Meghnad Saha. Professor Saha belongs to that pantheon of intellectual giants who have guided and inspired generations of young Indians. Professor Saha’s seminal work in astrophysics and mathematics is recognised globally. But, as with every successful leader and visionary, his institution-building efforts stood out as much as his scientific genius.

Professor Saha was among the original members of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. His role in the promotion of scientific research in the country and in establishing centres of excellence such as this one was enormous. He also contributed to development activities, particularly in the area of flood control. The setting up of the Damodar Valley Corporation and establishment of the River Research Institute near Kolkata owe a great deal to his pioneering zeal and effort. His contribution to the planning process in the country in the 1950s with the full encouragement of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru is all too well known.

I am delighted to see that over the decades this Institute has lived up to the ideals and vision of its great founder. It has several achievements to its credit, not least the first electron microscope and the first cyclotron in the country. The concept of pre-PhD courses started by this Institute was also the first of its kind in the country. The emphasis on a multi-disciplinary approach to higher learning, with focus on physical sciences as well as biological sciences, has been another valuable innovation. I am happy to learn that the Saha Institute has produced more than 1000 research publications during the last four years and awarded about 70 PhD degrees.

In a developing country like ours with scarce resources, there is often a debate on how much the country should be investing in basic and fundamental research. We were fortunate that the founding fathers of our republic were very clear in their minds that if India was to become a leading industrial and technological nation, there was no option but to promote fundamental scientific research. That approach has yielded us rich dividends. Institutes such as yours are today the backbone of our strong scientific and technological infrastructure. You deserve our fullest support in the preservation of your autonomy and in meeting your resource requirements. I as the Prime Minister assure you of both so that the objectives of the institution can be fulfilled.

In a fast changing world, the quality and scale of a country’s scientific knowledge base determines the competitiveness of its economy and the pace of its development. We are committed to creating an environment that attracts young men and women towards science and research. We have devised policies and mechanisms that draw the best minds to the scientific vocation. It is our collective duty to identify young talent, train them well, and provide them an environment that is conducive to advanced research and discovery. Our aim should be to produce more Nobel laureates.

The doors for international cooperation in high technology areas have opened for India and I am confident will open further. Our scientists should use these unfolding opportunities to develop an international temper and outlook. There should be greater international collaboration between our research institutes and those from other countries. Research institutes cannot function in isolation. There should be closer linkages between academia and industry and seamless transfer of knowledge from the laboratory to the shop floor. The Government is encouraging this process at all levels but the private sector can also make a significant contribution. Higher investments in research and development should be accorded high priority across the economy. It is a sad commentary that the number of patents filed by Indians is still very low as compared to the developed world, and even some in the developing world. We must encourage original thought and innovation and ensure that innovators are amply rewarded. This will create a virtuous cycle of innovation and reward.

The Saha Institute forms an integral part of the mission of the Department of Atomic Energy. I would like to compliment the Department of Atomic Energy and all its organizations and entities for the success that we have achieved in the implementation of our indigenous three-stage nuclear energy programme.

The availability of safe and affordable energy is an important factor in enabling us to realise our aspirations for growth and development. I am convinced that nuclear energy will play an important role in our quest for a clean and environmentally friendly energy mix as a major locomotive to fuel our development processes. We are in the process of expanding our civil nuclear energy programme. Even as we do so, we have to ensure that the use of nuclear energy in India meets the highest safety standards. This is a matter on which there can be no compromise. I would call upon the Saha Institute and other similar institutions to contribute to enhancing the safety of our nuclear reactors.

In conclusion I would like to acknowledge the enormous contribution that our scientists have made in the development and progress of our country. They are second to none, and have proven their skills in various disciplines of scientific endeavour. I am confident that they will bring even greater glory to the nation in the years to come.

I congratulate all of you on the Diamond Jubilee of this great Institute, you have done exceedingly well in the first sixty years, but I venture to think that the best is yet to come and that the next sixty years will be even more eventful. May your path be blessed.

Source: PIB Press Release


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