PM worried over talented youth ignoring science

December 13th, 2008 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan SinghNew Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday expressed concern over talented youngsters giving less priority to science and “gravitating to other disciplines”, affecting India’s competitive edge in the long run.“It is a fact that in recent years, the talented youth of the country are gravitating to other disciplines than science. Science is no longer necessarily the career of choice of the meritorious students,” Manmohan Singh said after inaugurating a special scholarship programme to retain and attract talent to scientific research.

“This trend has long-term implications for our development and for our competitive strength in the evolving global economy. Knowledge and innovation as never before are the keys to competitiveness and wealth creation in the fast evolving global economy,” he pointed out.

The prime minister had announced the programme at the Indian Science Congress in January.

Called Inspire (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research), the programme is an initiative of the science and technology ministry and targets one million students and teachers in the next few years.

“Recognising the great importance of this initiative, our government has made an allocation of Rs.2,100 crores ($21 billion) for it in the 11th Five-Year Plan period. These allocations are in keeping with our government’s commitment to provide strong policy and financial support to the growth of the science and technology sector in our country,” he added.

Manmohan Singh said the Inspire programme is an important initiative of the government that aims to strengthen the roots of the knowledge infrastructure.

“It is significant because it targets the entire learning pyramid from young learners to researchers. The scale of the programme is unprecedented and it proposes to cover one million young learners.

“Not only do we want to feed our knowledge economy with a steady stream of bright young minds, but we also want to inculcate a scientific temper and a spirit of inquiry and creativity in our youth.

“The underlying philosophy behind Inspire is based on the role that excitement, motivation, mentoring, promotion of excellence and assured career opportunities in research play in nurturing a meritorious scientist.

“Creativity has to be nurtured. Innovation has to be encouraged. Excellence has to be rewarded.”

The prime minister also said that the science and technology ministry had proposed a special scheme, Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE).

“I am very happy to have launched this new scheme, which provides an incentive grant to performing universities based on scientific publications in science citation indexed journals. I sincerely hope that many more universities would enroll into scientific research and become qualified for such recognitions and incentive grants.”

He further said that publications in science journals of the world from India have been registering an annual growth of about 10 percent during the last few years.

“A total of 14 universities are among the 35 high productivity S&T (science and technology) institutions of the country whose contributions figure significantly in such publications during the last 10 years.

He also distributed a special grant of Rs.100 million each to the University of Delhi, Hyderabad University and Panjab University for excellence in science education.

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