PM Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ talk on technology, innovation & health

By highlighting the important issues related to science and technology besides the health complications, the Prime Minister has clearly outlined the priority areas for the government

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(File Photo) Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

New Delhi: The Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi in his radio talk ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on August 31st, focused on the issues related to technology and healthcare scenario in the country. This is for the first time that the PM has spoken in detail about the importance of technology, startups dedicated to R&D and tackling the antibiotic resistance, dengue and ensuring safe motherhood (pregnancy complications).

Responding to a question by one of the students named Ankit, the PM mentioned that the future is going to be technology driven. “And technology is extremely dynamic. Day by day, technology keeps updating, changes form, transforms its impact. You cannot shackle technology. If you strive to hold it still, it would move beyond your grasp assuming new looks and forms. If we have to match its strides and move ahead, research and innovation are the keys, these are its lifelines and moving spirit. In the absence of research and innovation, technology will become a burden, just as still water stagnates and even stinks. And if we go on just using old technology without recourse to research and innovation, we will become outdated in this rapidly changing world and age,” mentioned Mr Modi.

Below are the excerpts from the Prime Minister’s talk where he gave the details of the government’s efforts on promoting innovation, tackling antibiotic resistance menace and much more:

“Let us aim to innovate”

And that is why the government too has taken steps to attract the new generation toward science and research & innovation in the field of technology. And that is why I say ‘let us aim to innovate’. And when I say “let us aim to innovate’ my AIM stands for “Atal Innovation Mission’. This Mission is being promoted by the Niti Aayog. The purpose is to create an eco-system in the entire country through the Atal Innovation Mission, to forge a vibrant chain of innovation, experiment and entrepreneurship, which would also enhance the possibilities of new employment generation. If we have to develop the next generation innovators, we shall have to link our children with it. And that is why the Government of India has taken the initiative of ‘Atal Tinkering Labs’. Wherever such Tinkering Labs are established in schools, those would be given 10 Lakh rupees and further 10 Lakh rupees will be provided for maintenance during the period of five years. Similarly, innovations are directly connected to Incubation Centres. If we have strong and well-equipped Incubation Centres, a system comes into place for innovations, for start-ups, for experimentation and to bring these efforts to a certain level. Creation of new Incubation Centres is essential just as it is necessary to strengthen the older Incubation Centres. And when I talk of Atal Incubation Centres, the government has considered allocating the huge sum of 10 crore rupees for this also. India is grappling with diverse challenges. We see problems in daily life. We shall now have to look for technological solutions for these. Through the ‘Atal Grand Challenges’ we have exhorted the young generation of the country that if they see problems, they should search for solutions taking the path of technology, doing research, applying innovations and bring those on board. The Government of India wants to specially reward technology developed to find solutions to our problems. And I am happy that people have evinced interest in these things. When we spoke of Tinkering Labs, about 13 thousand schools applied and when we talked of Incubation Centres, over four thousand academic and non-academic institutions came forward. I firmly believe that the real tribute to Abdul Kalamji will consist of harnessing research and innovation for developing technology to find solutions to problems we face in day to day life, and ridding us of the difficulties we face to make things easier for us all. The more the new generation devotes itself to this task, the greater will be their contribution with immense significance for the modern India of the 21st century. That will be the real tribute to Abdul Kalamji.

“Govt committed to tackle antibiotic resistance”

I would like to draw the attention of my dear countrymen to another menace. In today’s fast paced, rat race of life, at times we don’t have time to think about ourselves. When we fall sick, we want to get well as soon as possible and as a result pop in just any antibiotic that we can lay our hands on. It may give you instant relief, but my dear countrymen, this random pill popping habit can land you in deep trouble. It may give you temporary succor, but we should completely stop taking antibiotics without the advice of a doctor. Avoid it till a doctor gives you a prescription. Do not use the short cut method; it can lead to serious complications. Although random and rampant use of antibiotics gives immediate relief to the patient, but gradually the disease causing bacteria get accustomed to that drug. The drug then loses its efficacy and one has to fight the battle anew, develop new medicines, do new research; it takes years and till then these diseases create other complications. That’s why we have to be very aware about that. One more problem has presented itself. Suppose the doctor advises that brother, take this antibiotic and he tells that 15 tablets of that to be taken over a period of five days. I urge you to complete the entire course of medication as prescribed by the doctor. Because if the treatment is abandoned halfway, it would benefit the bacteria. If the medicine is taken more than what is required, that too would be in the favour of the bacteria. And that is why, it is utmost essential to take the entire course of antibiotic medicine in terms of number of tablets as well as days. If we leave the treatment halfway due to improvement in our condition, we are only helping that bacteria getting more sturdy and difficult to treat. Microbes spreading TB and malaria are bringing about rapid mutations in themselves, rendering medicines ineffective. In medical parlance it is called antibiotic resistance. Hence it is indeed necessary to follow rules in the administration of antibiotics. The government is committed to prevent antibiotic resistance. You must have seen, these days, on the antibiotic medicine strips there is a red line to make you aware. You must pay attention to that.

“Ensuring safe motherhood is the duty of our doctors”

While we are on the subject of health, I would like to talk about one more issue. I feel very concerned about the lives of pregnant women of our country. In our country, close to 3 crore women become pregnant every year but some of these mothers die during childbirth. Sometimes the mother loses her life, at times the infant does. There are times when both die. It is true that in the last decade there has been a decline in maternal mortality rates but even now, we are not able to save the lives of a large number of pregnant women. Anemia during or after pregnancy, pregnancy related infections, high BP, any such complication can have devastating effect. Keeping in view these issues, in the last few months, the Government of India has launched a new campaign ‘Prime Minister Safe Motherhood Campaign’. Under this, on the 9th of every month, all pregnant women will get a check-up at government health centers free of cost. I urge all poor families to ensure that all pregnant women avail of this benefit on the 9th of every month, so that if by the time they reach the 9th month any complication arises, it can be dealt with suitably in time and the lives of both mother and child can be saved. I have specially asked the gynecologists whether they could offer their services free on the 9th of every month, for the sake of under privileged mothers! Can’t my doctor brothers and sisters spare just 12 days in a year for this service to the under privileged? Over the last few days, many have written to me. There are thousands of doctors who have implemented what I said. But India is such a vast country. We need lakhs of doctors to join this campaign. I do believe that you will indeed do so.