New Delhi: Rashtrapati Bhavan today (February 5, 2018) hosted a one-day Nobel Laureates Seminar, organised by the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India in association with the Nobel Foundation. This is part of the Nobel Prize Series, a regular and landmark engagement between the Indian scientific and policy community and the Nobel Foundation.
Addressing the inaugural session of the Seminar, the President said that in the 70 years since India became independent, belief in science has shaped our society and developmental process. From agriculture to harnessing the energy of the atom, from vaccine innovation to advances in space technology, science has helped us build our nation.
The President said that keeping pace with this investment in science, we have also invested in people through our institutions of higher education. We have recently created several central universities; Indian Institutes of Technology; All India Institutes of Medical Sciences; and Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research. These investments will create a huge pool of scientists, clinician researchers and technologists for a changing India. For these investments to bear fruit, these institutions and also our schools must be as good as the best in the world. This is a challenge but together we can accomplish it. Together we can make innovation not just a passion for our scientific elite, but the lifeline of our schooling system.
The President said that because the world is constantly changing and ideas flow from every side, our scientists must be connected to the latest advances in research and technology. Science is nothing if not a global enterprise. It is this that is our focus today. How do we build world class institutions and universities and how do these connect to our society – both within our national boundaries and beyond?
The Nobel Laureates who addressed the Seminar are Christiane Nusslein-Volhard, Sir Richard John Roberts, Serge Haroche and Dr Tomas Robert Lindahl.
Christiane Nusslein-Volhard is a German biologist renowned for her embryonic development of fruit flies. Her contribution earned her the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
Richard John Roberts is an English biochemist and molecular biologist who was felicitated with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the mechanism of gene-splicing.
Serge Haroche is a French physicist who was awarded the 2012 Nobel Prize for Physics for devising methods to study the quantum mechanical behaviour of individual photons.
Tomas Robert Lindahl is a Swedish-born British scientist specialising in cancer research. In 2015, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
The President also addressed the concluding session of the Seminar.
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that without a strong, dynamic and creative education and schooling system, we cannot create a research and innovation culture. It is important to cultivate curiosity in our classrooms, and free science from the tyranny of jargon.
The President said that good researchers emerge in a system that values good teachers and good faculty. The linkage between research institutes and universities – and research and industry – is extremely important. These cannot exist in independent silos. It is also critical to link science to society. One of the reasons for the wide-spread support for our space programme, for instance, has been the ability of India’s space scientists to offer solutions to the lives of ordinary Indians – whether in mapping weather patterns that assist our farmers, or telemedicine that enhances access to healthcare.