Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President after presenting the 20th Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence 2019 to the Plant Scientist, Dr. Manju Sharma, in New Delhi on October 01, 2019.

New Delhi | October 1, 2019

“I welcome all of you to the Upa Rashtrapati Bhawan.

At the outset, I would like to extend my heartiest congratulations to Dr. Manju Sharma, recipient of the ‘20th Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence, 2019’.

I must say that everyone associated with Lal Bahadur Shastri Institute of Management (LBSIM) is fortunate, as they are part of an extraordinary legacy admired throughout the world – men and women who imbibed ‘Shastrian’ leadership and integrity and can make a difference to organizations and communities every day.

‘The Lal Bahadur Shastri National Award for Excellence’, instituted by LBSIM, certainly upholds Shastri Ji’s vision. I am glad that it values and honors people who have brought about profound transformation in the environment they exist in.

I am happy that this year the award has been presented to Dr. Manju Sharma, a distinguished and highly accomplished Plant Scientist.

During her long and exemplary career in science, Dr. Sharma has left her mark as a talented researcher, dedicated Science promoter and resourceful manager in all the organizations that she has worked with.

It is truly heartening to note that she has served as the President of the National Academy of Sciences, bagging the unique distinction of being the only woman to have served as President of any of the science academies of India.

I am glad to note that, as a Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, she established a number of new research institutions in the country.

I am told that she has also been instrumental in strengthening and expanding infrastructure in the country for bioinformatics, human resource development and frontline research that accelerated the development of biotechnology in India in a big way.

It is heartening to note that she has received tremendous love and affection from the scientific community. She has made invaluable contributions towards nation-building, through her dedication, hard work, vision and commitment to Science and Technology and its application for human welfare.
I congratulate her for winning this coveted award today.

My dear sisters and brothers,

It is appropriate that such an important award has been named after Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji, one of the tallest leaders of the nation.

Tomorrow, we celebrate the 115th birth anniversary of Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji. I join the country in paying tributes to this great son of India.

The values and morals that he taught and lived by, have transcended time and generations and are valuable for all times.

I urge youngsters to learn about his exemplary life and draw inspiration from it to serve the nation with zeal and passion.

Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji was known as a man of great integrity and competence. He was humble, tolerant with great inner strength who understood the language of common man. He was renowned for his resoluteness of spirit and firmness of action.

Shastri Ji rose from humble beginnings to occupy the top-most position in the nation. He maintained humility and commitment for the welfare of humanity to the very end and served the nation with unwavering commitment.

He was highly regarded for his good habits of punctuality, hospitality and practicality.

Shastri Ji was also a great communicator and negotiator-par-excellence. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India entrusted him with the most difficult and delicate of negotiations.

One of the secrets of his extraordinary success as negotiator was his ability to see the other man’s point of view.

He was deeply empathetic and was always ready to make maximum allowance for the other person’s point of view and feelings.

During his tenure as Minister without portfolio and as Home Minister, he handled and defused extraordinarily volatile situations with ease and poise.

Lal Bahadur Shastri firmly believed that peace was the first step to prosperity.

His address to the nation during the India-Pak war in 1965 is especially pertinent to us today. He said, "While the conflict between the armed forces of the two countries has come to an end, the more important thing for the United Nations and all those who stand for peace is to bring to an end the deeper conflict... How can this be brought about? In our view, the only answer lies in peaceful coexistence. India has stood for the principle of coexistence and championed it all over the world. Peaceful coexistence is possible among nations no matter how deep the differences between them, how far apart they are in their political and economic systems, no matter how intense the issues that divide them.” 

Today, decades later, as we strive to bring peace and prosperity to the sub-continent, Shastri Ji’s words serve as a guiding light. It tells us that a subcontinent at peace benefits all and that constant strife, hostility, conflict and terror drags us all down.

Since time immemorial, India has always embraced the values of peace, tolerance, brotherhood and harmony. We have continued to firmly adhere to these values. In spite of grave provocation from our neighbor who unabashedly aids and abets terrorism, India has handled the escalation of tensions with remarkable restraint, grace and poise. Terrorism is the enemy of mankind.

I must compliment our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi for taking a firm yet dignified stand against these highly condemnable acts of our neighbor.

I am also glad that India effectively unveiled its vision for peace and development for humanity at the ongoing 74th UNGA Session in contrast to the mindset that believes in violence, terrorism and warmongering for short-sighted vested interests.

I also compliment PM Modi for championing the cause of peace and prosperity for larger good by giving a crisp account of the unfolding development narrative of India that is aimed at achieving Sustainable Development Goals, a cause dear to the UN and the comity of nations committed to the welfare and future of humanity across the globe.

This session of UN presented a clear choice between peaceful coexistence and pursuit of conflicts bordering on perversion.

It brought out in focus diametrically opposite visions powered by statesmanship soaring high in the statement of PM Modi and its opposite of brinkmanship stooping too low.

Statesmanship flows from sacred hearts and noble thoughts that worry for the good of mankind. Its opposite of brinkmanship is a manifestation of narrow and perverse minds propelled by defining lack of concern for larger good of humanity.

Choice is clear.

Let humanity march on the path of peaceful development highlighted by Indian model.
My dear sisters and brothers,

Shastri Ji’s priority was always the common man, the weakest element in the society - his food, his clothing and his shelter, education for his children and good medical facilities.

What Shastri Ji said in his first broadcast to the nation as Prime Minister on 11 June 1964 is also equally relevant today and I quote: "There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear – the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations.”

This was a crystal clear and resolute articulation of India’s national objectives, both for achieving domestic goals and for formulating an effective foreign policy.

This concern for the common man is what dominated his career as a leader and statesman.
The institutions that are named after him and are inheritors of his legacy must focus upon this concern for common man and work his well being.

My dear sisters and brothers,

I am especially happy that this award has been presented to a Scientist here today.

Shastri Ji gave the clarion call of ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan’ and Atal ji added ‘Jai Vigyan’ to it, indicating the importance India gave to science and technology. Our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has further fortified the slogan, adding ‘Jai Anusandhan’ to it, signaling India’s resolve to strengthen its research architecture.
The presentation of this award for excellence to a scientist and researcher signifies India’s desire and determination to excel as a science and technology leader in the world.

I have always stressed that the future of India would be determined by how successful we are in harnessing the power of science and technology.

Science is the engine of prosperity and can fuel the nation’s economic growth.It is common knowledge that research in basic sciences forms the bedrock of all technological advancement. Basic-science research deserves steady commitment and investment.

Our nation’s ability to handle today’s pressing issues, from providing energy security to curing illnesses to living sustainably in a world with finite resources, will require  innovations that arise from basic scientific research.

It is crucial for the government, universities, corporate houses and others to come together and ensure that an innovation-based scientific eco-system thrives in the country with special emphasis on sustainability.  

We need to invest more on cutting-edge science research.

Innovation, incubation and start-ups are the buzz words in today’s world and countries and societies which are knowledge-centric and technology-driven will play a greater role in the global economy.

For us in India, this is the time to seize the opportunity and promote the culture of innovation and technology-based entrepreneurship.

India has a tremendous demographic dividend that is waiting to be realized. In an ageing world, India has one of the youngest populations. By 2020, the median age in India will be just 28, compared to 37 in China and the US, 45 in Western Europe, and 49 in Japan.

With about 65 per cent of the population below the age of 35 years, we need to convert this huge human capital into a force multiplier for the Indian economy by scientifically and technologically empowering the youth.

A strong STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education pipeline is therefore extremely critical. We must not only encourage more youngsters to enter the world of science, we must also encourage more women to take up science as a career.

Equally important is to recognize the work of scientists and technocrats who are doing outstanding service to the nation so that their discoveries are taken to the public at large, inspiring more youngsters to take up science as a career.

Stalwarts like Dr. Sharma are role-models to women all over the country. I am sure that she will inspire many more talented women to pursue scientific research.

I am confident that initiatives such as this award will go a long way in promoting science, technology, innovation and research in India.

I once again congratulate Dr. Manju Sharma and wish her all the very best in her future endeavours.

Thank You! Jai Hind!”