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Research focus for science minister

New Delhi, May 28: Jitendra Singh, a diabetes doctor with research experience, took charge of the Union science and technology and earth sciences ministries today, asserting that young scientists need to be convinced that India has ample research opportunities.

Singh, speaking to sections of senior scientists and science policy-makers in his new office complex, said he was convinced that India’s large and heterogeneous population and its diverse challenges provide more opportunities for scientific research than any other country.

“There’s no reason for talented scientific brains to move out of India,” Singh said. “But we have failed to educate youngsters to see these research opportunities.”

Singh said he would work towards erasing “this impression in society” that outstanding scientific research is not possible in India.

As minister for science and technology, Singh will be in charge of three departments — science and technology, biotechnology, and scientific and industrial research — that support many laboratories as well as fund scientific research in universities and other academic institutions.

As earth sciences minister, he will head a network of institutions engaged in weather science, ocean science and technology, research in Antarctica and the Arctic, and a tsunami-warning centre, among other related fields.

“As a good student of science, I’m keen to learn about other fields, including earth sciences,” Singh told the group of scientists he addressed today.

He narrated his own research experience as an endocrinologist at the Government Medical College, Jammu, where he was a professor before joining the BJP two years ago.

Singh had collaborated with colleagues in other cities to develop a set of guidelines for the treatment of diabetes in pregnant women. In another research study, he had established how stress associated with migration — the “involuntary migration” of sections of Kashmiris to other parts of India — was associated with diabetes.

In the coming days, Singh is likely to be briefed in detail by biotechnology secretary K. Vijay Raghavan, earth sciences secretary S. Nayak, and the director-general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research P.S. Ahuja.

Singh said his ministries would try to scale up research, especially efforts that deal with important socio-economic issues through collaborations with other ministries that deal with such matters.