Research culture crying need of India: Kalam

Bangalore, Jan 9 (IANS) Former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Monday exhorted academic institutions and universities to foster research culture for finding innovative solutions to social problems.

‘Applied and fundamental research is the crying need of the nation to foster research culture in our academia and universities for the basic needs of our growing population, especially, clean drinking water, food, healthcare, energy, housing, infrastructure and education,’ Kalam said at an awards ceremony in this tech hub.

Noting that the country would have to depend on technologies derived from Indian science to improve its innovativeness index, Kalam said the growth so far was achieved using technologies developed elsewhere and discoveries and patents generated over a decade ago.

‘As latest technologies will not be available for us from developed countries at least for a decade, innovative research is very vital, particularly, in basic science to develop products and services required to meet global competitiveness by organisations, institutions and industry,’ Kalam said, after presenting Infosys Prizes to six scientists.

He referring to the global innovation report for 2011, which ranked India 62 in the Global Innovation Index, while smaller countries such as Switzerland, Sweden, Singapore and Hong Kong among the top four countries.

‘If India has to graduate from the present ranking in competitiveness index and become equal to economically developed nations (within the top 10), we have to depend on technologies derived from Indian science and improve its innovativeness index to better than five,’ Kalam asserted.

The former president said when the entire planet was faced with the problem of climate change, there was a need for farmers, agricultural planners, educationists and researchers to intensify the quantum of organic farming.

Lauding the Infosys Science Foundation for instituting the six prizes in various research areas, Kalam said the government, industries, research laboratories and universities had to facilitate the award winners to participate in research.

The winners are Kanpur Genetic Algorithms Laboratory director Kalyanmoy Deb in category engineering and computer science, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology scientist Imran Siddiqi in life sciences, Stanford University professor Kannan Soundararajan in mathematical sciences and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) physics professor Sriram Ramaswamy.

University of Chicago professor Raghuram G. Rajan and Centre for Policy Research chief executive Pratap Bhanu Mehta were awarded in social sciences (economics and political science and international relations).

Kalam honoured each of the winners with a prize money of Rs.50 lakh ($100,000), a 22-karat gold medallion and a citation.