Without science, I will not be able to live: C N R Rao

>> Improve the government’s contribution to science to at least 1.5 to 2 % of the GDP. Industry-contribution is almost zero

cnrmainWe need to improve the government’s contribution to science to at least 1.5 to 2 % of the GDP.  Our industry has to contribute to scientific funding, at present industry’s contribution is nearly zero, says eminent scientist and professor C N R Rao in an exclusive interview with The Education Post. Rao is Linus Pauling Research Professor & honorary president at Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, Bangalore, India. He was conferred Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award in India, on 4 February 2014. He speaks on India’s progress in science education and the need for aggressive approach in research and development.

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What does science mean to you?

Science means everything to me.  Without science, I will not be able to live.  I worry about my research, teaching and my young students all the time.  I have really enjoyed doing science. I do not see any better way to live than doing science, making discoveries and innovations.  I am doing research for more than 60 years and will continue to work till the last day.

What do you think of the present status of science education in the country?

The status of science education is depressing. There are problems at all levels.  The universities are crumbling.  Our schools are not geared to take care of the big flow of children. Our teachers need to be trained. One thing that our government can do is to clean up the education system, particularly at school level for which the entire nation will be grateful.  This would be the greatest service the human kind in India.

The future of India depends on the millions of young children today. As the higher level, most of the universities do not have adequate facilities and the infrastructure.  The quality of teachers is not satisfactory.  How can they do competitive research?

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On government’s approach towards research and development.

All our governments have supported science to some extent.  Most of the support has gone to mission oriented agencies.  Fundamental science and discoveries at the frontier have not received adequate support. Small science which we all do in our laboratories requires more support.

It is this science that pushes science forward and helps mankind.

Do you think scientists need more resources for research to achieve something big?

We need to improve the government’s contribution to science to at least 1.5 to 2 % of the GDP.  Our industry has to contribute to scientific funding, at present industry’s contribution is nearly zero.

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Unemployable candidates are increasing day by day, how can we overcome this issue? 

Employment and education should be handled together.  We have to create employment opportunities by providing the right kind of education. In addition, we have to increase the possibilities of employment by opening up different types of professions, institutions and industries as well as for different national efforts.

On the software boom in labour market.  

It is true that the IT boom took away a large number of young people.  The situation seems to be slightly changing. We need to have brilliant young people taking up science and engineering. By fully utilizing their services, India will change.

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What is the future of Indian science?

The future of Indian science can be very bright if the industry and government support science fully and our society supports science as important in the value system.

Most importantly, we scientists have to work hard on difficult problems and on problems directly related to pressing problems of mankind.

Could you tell us the developments in nanoscience?

Nanoscience and technology are important areas and in India we have made a good beginning.  Thanks to the national Nano Mission set up by the Government of India, some start-up companies are coming up based on the work being done here.  In addition, because of targeted support, India is No.3 in the world in publications in nanoscience and technology.

Your message to young scientists

My advice to young scientists (young people in general) is that they should make up their mind and what they want to do in life and not give up. Dedication, doggedness and tenacity are required for success.  All those who have these qualities are succeeded even in India. I can assure young people of success, if they develop these qualities and have a goal that they have to reach.

Education Post