Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said that the science community should focus on innovations for rural poor and farmers, but also exercise discretion in choosing causes to work for.
“New India needs technology as well as a logical temperament so that our effort for social and economic development of the individual is in the right direction,” Modi said in a speech after inaugurating 107th Indian Science Congress at the University of Agriculture in Bengaluru.
Yesterday, Modi inaugurated 5 new laboratories of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), which will employ only scientists under 35 years, and work on modern weaponry.
Speaking to a gathering of scientists and students, the prime minister said technology had played a decisive role in various schemes and projects under the BJP government. Aadhaar-related benefits, rural electrification, improving sanitation and building houses for the poor, among other initiatives were aided by modern technology.
“Friends, we need a revolution in technology assisting agriculture practices,” he urged. “Your contribution will help India become a five trillion economy,” he said.
Modi, who was on a two-day visit to Karnataka, said the next decade would be decisive for rural technology, especially “cost effective agriculture and farm-to-consumer supply chain where technology will bring significant improvements”.
He said digital services, e-commerce and mobile banking had assisted rural population significantly, while modern data science especially after the roll-out of Aadhaar, had helped in targeting projects better.
The use of technology, he said, helped the government in identifying 80 million women who suffered from smoke from earthen furnaces, and providing their households with electricity. It also helped in building 20 million houses for poor in areas determined through geo-tagging, apart from creating a direct selling channel for farmers, among other things.
He urged youngsters to look into areas to eliminate archaic issues in farming. “Can we find farmer-centric solutions to crop burning; can we re-design brick kilns for lesser emission and higher efficiency; can we have better solutions to deliver clean drinking water in villages,” he said.
“Motto for youngsters must be to: Innovate, patent, produce and prosper,” Modi said.
There were stray incidents of protests reported in other parts of the city when the prime minister was in the state. Thousands of ASHA workers, or Accredited Social Health Activists, held a march demanding pending dues from the Central government in Bengaluru on Friday. On Twitter, #GoBackModi was trending on Thursday and had been used over 70,000 times. The harsh-tag had also come up during Modi’s recent campaign visits to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, protesting against the new citizenship law.
Meanwhile, Union Science and Technology Minster Harsh Vardhan, who also presided at the inauguration, said that the government was close to finalising a policy on ‘scientific social responsibility’ (SSC). Like corporate social responsibility (CSR), SSR will ensure that corporations invest in technology for the general good of the society.
“In the 2015 ISC (Indian Science Congress), Modi had used the word scientific social responsibility. At the moment, we are in advanced stages of developing a policy on how we can fulfil SSR,” said Vardhan. He added that gene editing, artificial intelligence, energy storage, quant systems, etc were some areas the government will try to promote through SSR.