Indian scientists have capability to solve all unsolved problems of the country: Dr Harsh vardhan

The union science and technology minister said that a large number of scientists have returned to India, accepting fellowships for research in various fields of science and technology

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New Delhi: The union science and technology minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan has lamented that several basic problems in India still remain unresolved even after 70 years of its independence. Addressing Prof Ramalingaswami Fellows Conclave in New Delhi recently, he said, it is pathetic, the country could not overcome some of the basic problems like malnutrition and anaemia. He, however, said that Indian scientists have the capability to solve these unsolved problems of this country.

“There are some basic problems in this country even after 70 years. So much nutritional foods have been developed in the labs, still we have the problem of malnutrition and anaemia. When I visit all these nutrition labs – Hyderabad, Mysore, etc. I see so much research taking place there, but still the country continues to suffer from many of the problems,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The Minister said a large number of scientists have returned to India, accepting fellowships for research in various fields of science and technology. He said 290 scientists have come back under the Prof. Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship and taken up research assignments in India and there are quite a few success stories.

“This is a very prestigious programme to have been named after him in recognition of his great contributions to science, where we are inviting young people from foreign universities to come to India and serve the country, literally converting the brain drain into brain gain. It is a befitting tribute to the memory of Prof. Ramalingaswami. I was told, 290 scientists have come back and joined various scientific organisations/universities in the last few years under this fellowship. It is a significant number and they have already produced 883 papers, developed 53 technologies, 33 patents and two start-ups,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The fellowship was conceptualized with the aim of attracting highly skilled Indian researchers working overseas in various cutting-edge disciplines of biotechnology – agriculture, health sciences, bio-engineering, energy, environment, bioinformatics and other related areas, by providing them an attractive avenue to pursue their R&D interests in Indian institutions.

So far, the fellows have joined various institutions like CSIR, IITs/NITs, ICMR, IISc, IISER/NISER and Universities as well as private sector. They have published 883 research papers, developed 53 technologies, 33 patents and established two start-ups.

There are several success stories from their research projects, which include non-invasive method for cancer detection, pesticide detection in food by mass spectrometry, prognosis of diabetes, anti-glioma drug, technology for breast cancer prognosis etc.

The Minister said, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment for science is resulting in positive outcome, as Prime Minister wants India in the driver’s seat of next scientific revolution.

Dr Meenakshi Munshi, Adviser in the Department of Biotechnology said, the yearly intake of scientists has been increased from initial number of 10 fellows to 50 and very recently has been increased up-to 75 from the current financial year, while their fellowship amount has also been enhanced. During the five-year fellowship period, Rs. 10 lakh each is given during the first and second year; Rs. 7.5 lakh in the third and fourth year and Rs. 5 lakh in the fifth and final year. The incumbents would also get institutional overhead expenses of Rs 50,000 annually. She said about 75 percent of the researchers have been absorbed in various scientific institutions/universities. Dr Munshi said, the fellowship is not a placement, but a buffering time of five years for the researchers to find a regular placement.

Dr. Ramesh V. Sonti, Director of National Institute of Plant Genome Research and Dr. S.S. Kohli, Adviser in the Department of Science and Technology also spoke on the occasion.