The scientific advisor to the prime minister, CNR Rao, on Thursday expressed disappointment over the lack of interest shown by state government representatives in attending the inauguration of Bangalore Nano conference.
Speaking at the 5th edition of the conference, Rao said “It is almost like a tradition now that no one from the government of Karnataka comes to the inauguration. Even last year, the chief minister could not make it. I was told this year by the chief minister that since the assembly session is on, he would not be able to participate. But, at least the science and technology minister Anand Asnotikar could have participated”.
At one point, Rao directly addressing principal secretary of the department of IT, BT and science and technology, ISN Prasad, said “As a scientist, I must record my displeasure for how this has been handled,”
However, Rao who seems to have a love-hate relationship with the Karnataka government, also praised it for the overall active participation in promoting science in the state. “It is the only state government in the country that is supporting science and technology to this extent. We have the Vision Group through which, we are training hundreds of teachers, funding small term research and our state is really helping us do all of that,” he added.
When Rao wasn’t criticising the government, he was admitting that while there is money to promote science in the country, it required people ready to dive into academia. “What India should have right now is a bunch of crazy and mad nuts. There are too many normal people around. We need to put in energy into innovation and people ready to take on the mantle,” he underlined. Rao also spoke about the latest developments in the field of nanoscience, including a new form of “Nano-nose” developed in Israel, that can detect cancer.
More funds proposed for science and technology
The 12th year plan will not only have the government setting aside more funds in the budget for science and technology, but will also call for private participation to aid the endeavour. Planning Commission member (science) K Kasturirangan noted that in the upcoming plan the government plans on increasing the budget to 1% of the GDP and will be seeking funds for another 1% from private stakeholders. He was speaking at the 5th edition of Bangalore Nano in the city.
“In the previous plan, the budget for science and technology was 0.9%. The government is willing to increase it to 1% if private players also invest as much. We need to invest in science and research because in another 20 years, India could become the third largest economy in the world. So, if the private players pitch in then the budget for science and technology would come up to 2%, so they get to take advantage of the resources from the government and also be a stakeholder,” he said.
He also added that, with India’s scientific advisor to the prime minister, CNR Rao at the helm, several models are being worked out to see which public-private partnership model would be feasible.