President Ram Nath Kovind, addressed the 4th India International Science Festival (IISF) in Lucknow on Saturday and expressed concern over the inadequate participation of women in the field of science and technology.
He noted, “Of the 3,446 scientists working at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, only 632 – or 18.3 percent – are women. “
The President said that in a week, when women scientists have won Nobel Prizes for physics and for chemistry, this is a telling statistic. “It is a reminder of the scientific potential of our daughters that we are not adequately harnessing.”
While terming it as both a social and systemic challenge, he stressed it is our collective responsibility to overcome it.
President Kovind noted that science has always been a part of Indian culture. “Centuries ago, our ancestors were uncovering the secrets of mathematics and the concept of zero. They were applying the lessons of science in fields as far apart as medicine and metallurgy,” he said.
Furthermore, laying stress on the need for a quantum jump in the time ahead, he said, “In the first quarter of the 21st century, in the age of robotics and precision manufacturing, of bioinformatics and gene editing, of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Artificial Intelligence, it is time for a quantum jump.”
“We cannot make that jump without converting science into a mass movement and without promoting tinkering and innovation as an everyday activity in our labs, our universities and even our schools.”
He emphasized that science and technology are not a mere add-on. Their cross-cutting nature and role in every field, flagship programmes and developmental efforts must be appreciated.
The President also urged the scientific community to mentor and support budding researchers and students in universities. “Budding researchers and students look to senior scientists for guidance, support and access to laboratories and equipment. With such generosity of spirit and of intellect, Indian science will carry much greater weight. It will move closer to building a best-in-class ecosystem.”