Following is the text
of the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh’s address at the CSIR
Foundation Day function in New Delhi today:
“I am delighted to join you on the 70th Foundation Day of the Council of
Scientific and Industrial Research. Dr. Brahmachari just reminded me of
a personal attribute that I happen to share with the Council --- we were
both born on 26th September. I can think of no better company than this
illustrious gathering of men and women of science, with whom to have my
first public engagement on this very special day.
With your indulgence, I could stretch my association with the Council
fraternity even farther. Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, the man whose
memory we cherish today, came to this city from Lahore with a dream to
build the chain of CSIR’s national Laboratories. I followed him with a
more modest dream of my own, to make a fresh beginning in free India,
though in the tragedy and chaos of Partition that forced this choice
upon my family, to dream was indeed to dare!
Partition was, of course, in many ways a national tragedy far more
poignant than our personal losses. In those days of horror, it was easy
to write off India, with its deep-rooted poverty, widespread ignorance,
frequent epidemics and an economy that had remained stagnant in the five
But we were fortunate to have in Jawaharlal Nehru a leader who saw
science and technology as an elixir for India’s development, and in Dr.
Bhatnagar a scientist of extraordinary organizational capacity and
caliber to implement this vision of Jawaharlal Nehru.
Recognizing the potential of scientific research, Jawaharlal Nehru
placed the Council under his personal charge, thereby beginning a
tradition that successive Prime Ministers have continued. Science has
always commanded the utmost priority of our policymakers. I consider it
a privilege to preside over this hallowed organization in the seventh
decade of its outstanding service to our nation.
I glad that the Council has proven its professional worth in every phase
of India’s growth, in line with prevailing national policies and
national priorities. In the early days of Independence, it was a
champion of import substitution, rebuilding our industrial base in the
face of shortages and resource crunch. When India became a victim of
technology denial, CSIR laboratories created advanced products and
technologies, such as India’s first super computer, radiation shielding
glasses and components for aerospace and satellites, emerging as a
credible partner for our strategic sector. During this time, the Council
also catapulted India as the top generic drug producer.
After India embraced globalization, introduced economic reforms and
joined the WTO, the CSIR quickly emerged as the flag bearer of the
Intellectual Property movement in our country and became the single
largest holder of US and European patents. The Council, in recent years,
has also become a world leader in specific domains of biotechnology and
recombinant DNA products.
I would like to particularly compliment the Council on its unique
attempt to make healthcare affordable by exploiting the power of open
source drug discovery. As a concept, this is a global first and the
world has turned from skepticism to partnership. I am happy to learn
that the Council has opened its patent chest for accelerated drug
discovery for hitherto neglected diseases like tuberculosis and malaria.
While we aim for global excellence and competitive advantage for our
country in science, the Council must not lose sight of the mandate of
science in our country that Jawaharlal Nehru spoke about while
addressing the Indian Science Congress in 1947.
He said, “Science must think in terms of the 400 million persons in
India”. I am glad that the Council has remained firmly rooted in the
social milieu of our country while selecting and implementing projects.
I commend the recent CSIR 800 programme which aims at affordable
scientific interventions to improve the quality of life of the people at
the base of the economic pyramid. The Council’s thrust on research and
innovation in renewable energy, in water, environment and waste
management also reflect its awareness of contemporary challenges that
our country faces.
In recent times, conventional scientific disciplines and approaches are
proving unequal to dealing with complex developmental challenges. New
disciplines are emerging at the interface of traditional boundaries. The
newly created Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research promises to
train our young scientists and engineers in trans-disciplinary skills by
tapping into the entire resources and infrastructure of the CSIR
fraternity. This is a good initiative and I look forward to early
Last week, while inaugurating a new campus of the Council’s Institute of
Genomics and Integrative Biology, I was impressed by the power and
potential of public-private partnership in scientific research. I am
told that across CSIR laboratories, new ecosystems like Innovation
Complexes are being created to foster innovation through partnership
with industry, academia and other R&D institutions. Mechanisms have been
put in place to identify needs of India’s industries and to tap bright
ideas of the CSIR’s young talent. The Council has announced policies to
encourage scientists to create spin offs and new ventures. It is also
partnering with the National Innovation Council to provide focused
technology assistance to small and medium enterprises.
However, with all our achievements, we cannot rest on our laurels. As a
nation, we have not succeeded in mobilizing enough private investment
into science to raise our investment in scientific research to 2% of
GDP. We need to recognize that excellence has not percolated across all
our research and academic institutions. We have not been able to make an
impact on a world scale commensurate with our large scientific manpower
pool. CSIR, therefore, will need to devote itself to these national
challenges in the years to come. It will have to take up national
leadership in science, engineering and technology.
In this journey, young people like many of those gathered here are our
nation’s hope and future. I congratulate the awardees for their talent,
for their devotion to duty and for their aspirations for Indian science.
Young scientists must dream big and refuse to despair. I would like to
remind them of the exemplary determination and selfless patriotism of
Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar that led to the establishment of one of the
finest scientific institutions of our great country – The Council for
Scientific and Industrial Research.
With these words, I wish you all success in your endeavours. Jai Hind.”