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Scientists urged to turn knowledge into wealth

Jorhat, May 12: Professor T.K. Chandrashekhar, secretary of the Centre’s department of science and technology, today told scientists to translate knowledge and technology into wealth for the overall growth of the country. He was delivering the National Technology Day lecture at the Northeast Institute of Science and Technology (NEIST) here.

The professor also said India would be knocking on the doors of Finland and Israel to find out if they would be willing to sell their technology, which would be used in producing consumer goods here as India has a huge market as well as cheap labour.

“Finland has a lot of technology but production costs go up because of manpower shortage. Same goes for Israel and even Australia. India can buy their technology — we have the labour to mass produce, a huge market and will be able to make money if we can export the products,” he said.

The professor would also be going to China next week to hold discussions with the government regarding exchange of scientists of both the countries.

“China has done a lot to surge ahead in economic growth. First, it brought back scientists working in other parts of the world and gave them salaries that they were drawing there. If scientists from here go to China to work and vice versa, both the countries can benefit from each other in the sphere of knowledge dissemination and technology,” he said.

Regarding the present policy of the government, Chandrashekhar said integration of science and technology and society was necessary and in order to do this the industry and the people had to be roped in.

“We are not in competition with a developed economy like the US. Our needs are different. While we stand in the ninth position among the other world economies, our per capita income is low and there is a lot of poverty that has to be eliminated. In order to do this we have to convert technology into money, science to wealth,” he said.

While praising the output of CSIR-NEIST, in which 11 per cent of its patents and 63 per cent of its inventions had been commercialised, he said mostly scientists were satisfied with the publication of a paper and not with whether this was useful to society.

“In India, 45,000 research papers in absolute numbers are published annually, which is about 3.7 per cent of the global publications. On the other hand, in 1981, it was 40 per cent but in 2010, it has fallen to about 30 per cent,” he said.

But he also told the scientists not to patent each and everything that could be patented unless it was worth it in the sense of usefulness to society as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research under which NEIST functioned spent a lot on each patent.

“The various research institutes do not work in co-operation, that is why there is differences in policies but now a committee of secretaries representing each of these has been formed to work out a strategy,” he said.

From April, the government in a bid to increase and better the scientists’ pool had begun giving 1,000 doctoral fellowships of $2,000 per month for certain categories of research like cyber security and advanced manufacturing process and 200 post-doctoral fellowships.