President Pranab Mukherjee called upon scientists to use the Commonwealth Science Conference as a platform to generate fresh ideas that would benefit the common man.
“The conference should act as a platform for flowering of ingenious ideas that benefit the common man,” Mukherjee said, inaugurating the four-day summit organised in India for the first time by London’s Royal Society.
Recalling Jawaharlal Nehru’s words that the future belonged to science and to those who make friendship with science, the president lauded the initiative of the Commonwealth countries to build scientific capacity in developing nations.
“Collaboration of young scientists from Commonwealth countries with leading laboratories of the world must be enhanced,” Mukherjee told about 800 delegates, including 300 top scientists and 70 research students from 30 Commonwealth nations participating in the conference.
Asserting that the need of the hour was to improve teaching and teachers’ quality at every level, especially in schools, the president said the conference could be transformative for securing future with actionable programmes.
“Commonwealth nations should join hands in bilateral and international ‘mega science’ initiatives. Boys and girls must have the opportunity to learn the tools of science to fulfill their dreams and to understand mysteries of our planet and the universe,” he said.
The president also assured the Royal Academy that India would be happy to collaborate with other nations to strengthen the scientific base and research capabilities of smaller countries of the Commonwealth.
As a special guest at the inaugural event, Duke of York Prince Andrew said the conference should be an inspiration to encourage aspiration of the people in the Commonwealth and become a role model to shape their future.
“I met the Queen (Elizabeth) in London before coming here and discussed with her how the Commonwealth can be an inspiration to encourage aspiration of the people in the member-countries,” Andrew said in his brief address.
Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, Karnataka Governor Vajubhai Rudabhai Vala and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah were among the dignitaries present.
Organised by the Royal Society and the union science and technology ministry, the summit will deliberate on diverse topics ranging from climate change, global health, mathematics and material and biological sciences to space.
“The event will celebrate excellence in science conducted in Commonwealth countries and explore opportunities for collaborative research projects in diverse subjects,” eminent scientist Bharat Ratna C.N.R. Rao told IANS earlier in the day.
Nobel laureates Paul Nurse and Martin Rees from Britain’s Astronomer Royal will deliver the keynote lectures Wednesday.
Nurse is the president of the Royal Society in London.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research, headed by Rao, is co-hosting the event along with the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in London.
The Royal Society is the science academy of the Commonwealth to promote development of science and scientific temper among the stakeholders, including policy makers, governments, academia and industry.