“I am delighted to be with the Modi family and all of you to participate in the 117th Birth Anniversary celebrations of late Shri Gujar Mal Modi, and to felicitate Prof. S.K. Satheesh and Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan (Padma Bhushan) with the ‘Gujar Mal Modi Award-2019’.
On this occasion, I pay tribute to Shri Gujar Mal Modi, the founder of the Modi Group of Industries, who was a great humanitarian. He was one of the prominent architects of modern industrial India
I am told that Bahadur Gujar Mal Modi undertook several welfare initiatives for his employees and their families. He built schools, educational institutions, hospitals, temples and residential complexes for them. He believed in taking peoples’ wealth back to people and made conscious efforts to plough back a large part of the profit made by his business undertakings for social good.
Shri Gujar Mal Modi was presented the prestigious Padma Bhushan by the Government of India, in recognition of his achievements as an enterprising industrialist and for his immense philanthropic work.
Today, the Modi Family is celebrating the 117th birth anniversary of this great philanthrope.
I am glad to know that, since 1988, the Foundation has already recognized thirty three personalities of the country who have excelled in their respective fields. The list includes Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Prof. M.G.K. Menon and Dr. Kasturirangan.
I am happy to know that the Jury, under the chairmanship of Dr. K. Kasturirangan, former Member, Planning Commission, has decided to honour Prof. S.K. Satheesh and Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan this year.
Prof. S.K. Satheesh, the Chairman of Divecha Centre for Climate Change and Professor of Centre for Atmosperic and Oceanic Sciences at Indian Institute of Science (IISc), has made outstanding contributions to understanding the significant impact of light – absorbing atmospheric aerosol particles on the radiation balance of the Earth-atmosphere system and regional climate.
Prof. Satheesh’s efforts in the assessment of the radiative impact of aerosols, which is widely used in climate models to study monsoon, are indeed praiseworthy. I extend my hearty congratulations to him for the honour that he received today.
Padma Bhushan Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan from Kashmir, is currently the Chair of the Health Systems Transformation Platform, established by the Tata Trusts and of the Technical Advisory Group of the National Biopharma Mission.
I am glad to note that his pioneering research lead to development of a Rotavirus vaccine from a novel virus strain he isolated at AIIMS, New Delhi. The vaccine developed through a decade long effort is now delivered through the country’s immunization program and used in other developing countries. Over 100 million of this vaccine doses given to children in last few years has saved countless lives. His efforts have inspired translational biomedical science and innovation by Indian academia and industry.
He is globally recognized as an innovation leader in medical research and technology development. I congratulate Dr. Bhan on his outstanding achievements.
It is common knowledge that research in basic sciences form the bedrock of all technological advancement. It is crucial to create an environment where the government, universities, corporate houses and others come together to propel the entire science eco-system forward with special emphasis on sustainability.
One way to motivate and encourage talented youngsters is by recognizing and applauding the accomplishments of our researchers and scientists, a step taken by the G.M. Modi Foundation years ago. My congratulations to this Foundation for encouraging scientists in the way you have been doing for the past 31years.
My dear brothers and sisters,
I am sure that all of you are aware of the tremendous progress that our country is making on several fronts. We have a stable democracy and a vibrant economy. We have huge potential in our demography with 65% of the population being below 35 years of age.
I strongly believe that for India to move ahead on the path of inclusive and sustainable development, at a faster pace, innovation is an imperative. Today, we face a number of formidable challenges like poverty, pollution, climate change, diseases, not-so-profitable agriculture, and low-efficiency industrial processes.
We have to find solutions to these problems using the limited resources that are available to us.
Innovation and out-of-box solutions are the only way forward.
Innovation is a culture, a mindset.
Once you have an innovation culture, even those who are not scientists or engineers would also embrace innovation and scientific literacy. Thus innovation would get embedded as one of the core values of a society, promoting economic growth and development.
This culture of constant innovation is what India needs today, it is what will make India a global leader.
Investing in innovation is investing in a bright future.
The foundation for this culture of innovation must be laid in our schools and colleges.
Children are born with a natural curiosity about the world around us. This curiosity is the foundation of all invention. We must encourage our children to ask questions, to critique and to reject the irrational.
Our education system must be overhauled to inspire creativity and curiosity. It must seek to turn this native curiosity among children into knowledge that gives us the power to invent, to find solutions to problems.
We must build a new model of education together, a model that does not resist change but remains forever open and adaptable. We must build on the ‘best practices’ we have developed over centuries as learners, and create ‘next practices’ that would suit our vision for our future.
A start has been made through initiatives like ‘Atal Tinkering labs’ set up in more than 5500 schools in India, under the Atal Innovation Mission, to foster curiosity, creativity, and imagination in young minds and inculcate skills such as design mindset, computational thinking, adaptive learning, physical computing etc.. Many more such initiatives which serve as platforms for innovation, should come up.
Our universities must serve as centres for excellence in basic sciences as well as cutting edge technology. They must be power houses of research and development.
To meet this objective, the research projects that are undertaken by our universities must live up to international standards and benchmarks. It has very often been said that a major weakness of Indian education and research is the relatively very small part played by the universities in the sum total of Indian research.
At the institutional level, there is a need to link teaching with research. The government needs to invest in faculty development, provide incentives for research, promote collaborative efforts between institutions in research.
Our universities must move beyond adopting technology to embracing it.
Initiatives such as outcome based research financing, setting up of Incubation Centers for innovative research and setting up Research Parks in central educational institutions can go a long way in making our universities thriving knowledge-creation centres.
Unlike in the past, tight boundaries between various disciplines have almost disappeared. Today’s researchers cannot confine themselves to compartmentalized silos and must have a basic understanding of other related disciplines. The issues are also no longer discipline-specific and cut across several disciplines. A holistic research approach needs to be adopted in an inter-disciplinary manner.
For example, health, education and environment are of immense concern to all and cannot be confined to particular disciplines.
The canvas of new research both in science and social science is vast and will definitely help young researchers to get a wider perspective on various phenomena. The emerging areas in bio-technology, genetic engineering, biodiversity, new materials, micro-machines, bio-medical simulations and equipment, new dominions in space research and technology including permanent human habitat in space, and similar new frontiers in oceans, are some of the examples.
I urge our educational institutions to come together for creating new knowledge at the intersections of existing disciplines.
My dear sisters and brothers,
Much is being said about promoting entrepreneurship. The priority accorded by the government to innovation is clearly reflected in missions such as ‘start-up India’ and Stand-up India’.
I strongly believe that innovation and entrepreneurship go hand in hand. Our universities must serve as safe spaces for entrepreneurship to flourish. We must encourage our brilliant youngsters to collaborate and work together in teams to come up with business ideas that are feasible, sustainable and most importantly, socially relevant.
The ultimate aim of all innovation is the betterment of the human condition, the alleviation of suffering and the promotion of stability, peace and harmony.
I urge all of you, especially young innovators to have a big vision and then take small steps to realize your vision. Sometimes, innovation is not about cutting edge technology, it is about simple solutions to complex problems. India is a country that is well known for its frugal innovations. We must keep this competitive advantage of ours alive and use it to the best possible extent to defeat challenges.
Let me also caution you that every single cutting edge technology brings with it its own disruptive interventions. We as a society must be mature and prudent enough to manage these disruptions which are very often paradigm altering.
Let me impress upon you that Science is a moving target, forever advancing and progressing. We need to keep ourselves updated and be ready to work hard.
I once again congratulate Prof. S.K. Satheesh and Dr. Maharaj Kishan Bhan. I hope that the legacy of philanthropic activities left behind by Bahadur Gujar Mal Modi will be carried forward by his family in the times to come. I wish all of you all the very best in your future endeavours.