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Science is back on track; innovation is key to progress: Dr. Harsh Vardhan

Union Minister for Science & Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan today asserted that the Government has successfully mainstreamed science & technology for the growth and development of the country.

Stating that India’s challenges are many and solutions complex, the Minister said that ambitious plans have been made in many new areas and that the need of the hour is to move ahead and scale up.

“We have moved from policy paralysis and worked with our brilliant scientific community to connect with our people and what India needs,” the Minister said while addressing a National Video-link Press Conference from New Delhi, linking 13 cities including Mumbai and Pune.

Asserting that “Science is back on track”, Dr. Harsh Vardhan listed out key initiatives taken by his ministry in the fields of scientific weather forecasting, formulation of new vaccines, biotechnology, energy research and eco-system for innovation.

The Minister said, at a time when we are witnessing climate change, a reliable and accurate forecasting system plays a vital role in the prevention and mitigation of natural hazards. “Our weather forecasting involves high-speed computing and mathematical modeling. We have become world-leaders in this area. Our Tsunami warning system is constantly being tested and will have the maximum possible warning period should there be another strike. Our fisher-folk are now better connected through an SMS warning system” he said. The Indian Tsunami Warning System, established at the Indian Centre for Ocean Information Services, Hyderabad has been recognized by the UNESCO as the Regional Tsunami Service Provider for the Indian Ocean region.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan asserted that Science & Technology has positively impacted the lives of farmers too. He said currently, over 1.1 crore farmers were receiving crop specific agro-meteorological advisories in their respective languages under the Grameen Krishi Mausam Sewa. The wheat, rice, sugarcane and cotton cultivators have been the major beneficiaries of this service. The Grameen Krishi Mausam Sewa is being provided through 130 Agro-Met zones comprising clusters of 4-6 districts.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also added that drought and salt tolerant varieties of rice and high nutrient grains have been introduced, which would soon be scaled up for mass production.

The Minister said major advances have been made in the health sector with the introduction of three new vaccines for immunization and the rotavirus vaccine. “We have streamlined our regulatory system with the Health Ministry and this opens up huge innovation and entrepreneurship in the health sector. New entities and biotech innovations have been put in the pipeline” he noted.

The Science & Technology Minister underlined the steps taken by the Government to promote and encourage the innovation and start-up eco-system in the country through the National Initiative for Developing & Harnessing Innovation, NIDHI. This programme supports 200 student start-ups or innovative ideas to undertake viable business plans and ventures. He said attracting young talent to take up Science as career was crucial for the success of India’s innovation programme. “We have revised the fellowships for research scholars and will have a committee now to examine this regularly. Our programmes to attract the best to India and keep the best in India have been very successful,” said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

The Minister credited the success of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Ministries to the Inter-Institutional collaboration across ministerial and departmental boundaries and the excellent work of the scientists. These clusters have become the engines of change and innovation.

The Minister further added that there are new programmes in collaboration with the departments and ministries Space, Defence and Atomic Energy.

The National Video-link Press Conference held at PIB’s National Media Centre in New Delhi was joined by almost 100 journalists from Mumbai, Pune, Goa, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneswar, Kolkata, Guwahati, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Jammu.