Nobel Laureate Prof David Gross asks India to propel basic science

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Mysuru, Jan 05: Nobel Laureate Prof David J Gross for the second day in a row emphasized that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of Make in India needs a relook.

Delivering his talk at the 103rd Indian Science Congress (103ISC), Prof Gross also wondered what will be made in India.

'India must propel basic science'

"What will you make without discovering and inventing India? Every year Prime Ministers come to Indian Science Congress and promise that more money will be given to research and development. But nothing happens," Prof Gross, hailing from the United States said.

The top speaker said he changed the topic from ‘The frontiers of fundamental physics,' to ‘Importance of basic science,' realizing that the latter one served India better.

He said technology-driven science is most popular among politicians, despite basic science driving it.

"There's a need for justification as to why one should do investigative, curiosity-driven science as it almost never addresses immediate societal problems," he said.

During the entire talk, Prof Gross gave many examples as to why developing countries should put more money funding R&D.

India must invest more in R&D like China

Saying that India must invest more in R&D, he cited the example of China, which has made substantial inroads in backing science.

"India and China invested 0.8 per cent of their GDP on R&D in 2000. In 2010, China doubled to 1.8 per cent, but India was still stuck at 0.8 per cent. And in 2014, India invests only about 0.9 per cent," he said.

The Nobel Laureate warned that India will lose brilliant minds to other countries if basic science is not backed to motivate excellence.

"Basic science affects everyone and it is basic science that helps produce truly novel technology," he said.

He said India will never be able to invent anything, if the country does not change.

"I have been coming here for the last 30 years. I feel the way you perform, act, teach and conduct yourselves must change. The rigid and bureaucratic system must go. I could have used more adjectives," he said, with the audience erupting in laughter.

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