President asks scientists to find solutions for challenges like climate change, water scarcity
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday exhorted scientists and students to work towards finding solutions to challenges such as climate change and water scarcity, while underscoring that science and technology must continue to play a role in nation building.
Kovind, who was addressing the 7th convocation of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) here, also encouraged students, who graduated today, to become entrepreneurs and asked them to give back to society, especially to the less privileged.
"The purpose of scientific research is threefold. First, science and technology must continue to play a role in nation building. As our nation evolves and our society changes, are needs too are transformed. Yet, science and technology will always be required to find answers to developmental questions," he said.
"Today, the questions before us range from battling climate change to providing low-cost, but effective, healthcare solutions. And, from helping our farmers overcome productivity and water-scarcity challenges to building sustainable cities and houses that are socially inclusive and provide a life of dignity to the last family in the last mohalla.
The IISER network must immerse itself in these tasks," the president said.
Noting that science and technology have a symbiotic relationship with business and industry, Kovind said science and commerce can do a lot together.
"Product invention and process innovation; converting the learning of the lab into commercially viable products; using technology to promote efficiency, enterprise and employment, there is so much science and commerce can do together.
"The combination of research institutions, technology start-ups incubated in campuses, and a knowledge-based business culture can be transformational. Silicon valley in California (in the US) and Bengaluru in India are two examples of this. IISER must strive to play a similar role in Mohali and neighbouring cities," he said.
Kovind said institutions of scientific education and research were important for innovation and expanding frontiers of knowledge.
"This is the fundamental and to my mind, most critical value of scientific research. It is to keep alive the instinct of curiosity that is at the root of our civilisation. The history of science tells us, this route requires patience. But, it can lead to unexpected and dramatic leaps in human imagination," he said.
"I urge those graduating today, as well as others studying at IISER, to keep these three motivations in mind as they climb higher. In their own way, these three motivations of science and research will help you to serve fellow citizens, to serve society and country, and to serve the larger cause of humanity," Kovind said.
Punjab has a long history of technocrats who ventured into successful businesses, the president said.
"Those who are graduating today, too, should consider the path of entrepreneurship, and of becoming job and wealth creators as so many great scientists and technologists have done," he said.
"This is a day to cherish and show gratitude to your parents and families, who have helped you through this process. You must not forget the rest of society, fellow citizens, hardworking taxpayers, government agencies, and so many other stakeholders who have supported your alma mater and contributed to your education," Kovind said.
The president lauded the academic performance of graduating woman students.
"Going through the list of the 152 students, who are graduating today by getting undergraduate and master's degrees or PhDs, I find that 66 are girl students. That is a little over 40 per cent.
"However, both the gold medals for academic performance have gone to girl students. Three of the four awards for academic excellence have been won by girl students," Kovind said.
"It is my privilege to travel to convocations across the country. I find this commendable performance of our young women, of our society's daughters, to be something of a national trend. They are consistently outscoring their male counterparts. This is a step forward in the cause of gender equity and in making India a developed society," he said.
Noting that IISER is one of India's foremost destinations for students interested in science, Kovind said, "The institute is well on its way to fulfilling its mandate of promoting and providing facilities for basic science research and integrating these with the needs of India."
"This is one of the most exciting and promising urban agglomerations in our country. In parallel, IISER Mohali is also drawing inspiration from the rich tradition of basic and applied scientific research in Punjab. This legacy goes back to the period before Independence, when Punjab was one of India's earliest centres of scientific knowledge production and training," he said.
"This legacy also provides us some excellent examples of how collaboration between scientific researchers and technologists on one side, and the larger developmental process on the other, contributed to nation building," Kovind said.
"We can't forget the technologists who did the groundwork for large projects such as the Bhakra Nangal project. It was agricultural scientists and universities in Punjab that provided the basis for enhanced food productivity and the Green Revolution.
"Today, Mohali is a hub for the knowledge economy, information technology, biotechnology and bio-informatics and related fields. It is critical that we see IISER as not just a standalone institution, but as the fulcrum of an entire ecosystem," he said.
On the occasion, the governors of Punjab and Haryana were also present.