Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan urged Indian scientists on Monday to think ‘out of the box’ to come out with research that can jump-start national development, while his speech lacked one concrete example to focus on.
Speaking at the 12th International Symposium on Antarctic Earth Science in Panaji, Dr Harsh Vardhan said, “The scientists should think out of the box and come out with research that can push the nation on growth path by benefiting the public.”
Since there are 350 million people who are poor in the country, scientists can think out of the box to come out with the technologies which can provide easy solutions.
“We have developed new technologies and done thousands of research for over decades now but how many of them have actually benefited the society ?” he asked the researchers.
“If technologies are not in the interest of the public, then they are of no use,” he said without giving concrete examples.”Let us first find out what are the needs of common men and then do the research accordingly,” he said.
No wonder the minister is stressing the need for something that is useful to common man in India. A country of huge base of scientists and engineers, India has failed to come out with a chapati-maker that can provide relief to half the population who are women engaged in house-making.
India undertakes huge commercial space projects, thanks to its vast resouces of space scientists. At macro-level, India has achieved what major countries have achieved but miserably failed at micro-level research.
In fact, Indian-origin engineers in Singapore came out with a chapati-maker called ‘Rotimaker” that can fit into any household though it is not able to begin its manufacture and sales in India still.
Once rotimaker or its Indian-equivalent automatic roti-makers which can fit the budget of a middle class or below-poverty-line families, it is going to save millions of working hours for these 350 million people and another equal number in a billion-plus nation like India.
The resultant hours saved by our women folk can be channelised into productive jobs, thus propelling the growth of the country enormously. Why didn’t our scientists think of a roti-maker, for one such simple example?
The problem is thinking out of the box in India meant aiming at becoming rich overnight with fancy products than a mass-friendly utility device. No scientist wants to be branded as the inventor of a roti-maker in preference to a space-related or computer-related product.
The stigma makes them think outward rather than out of the box. There lies India’s tryst with high-end products, not with what the country’s half of the population needs in their daily lives.
Perhaps, Dr Harsh Vardhan should focus on such concrete examples rather than reiterating what his predecessors have done for the last six decades. Or should it come come first from the PM’s mouth to set the ball rolling with such concrete examples? It’s time ministers too think “out of the box” now.