The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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IIT soldier & terror on centre stage

Hyderabad, Jan. 3: They came to find scientific solutions to poverty, but all the voices rose in anger against a common threat ' terrorism.

The man who led the chorus was the Prime Minister.

Manmohan Singh today kicked off the 93rd Indian Science Congress here by condemning the recent attack at Bangalore’s Indian Institute of Science and paying homage to the memory of the “soldier of knowledge” who fell to the bullets of an unknown assailant.

“Professor (M.C.) Puri was gunned down in the great temple of Indian science by the most reprehensible and cowardly enemies of our people,” he said.

“Dr Puri was a soldier of knowledge who lived a life of peace, dedicated to science and education. No civilised people can condone such an uncivilised act.”

The Prime Minister said the “temples of our knowledge society” were being targeted by terrorists as they are symbols of the success of Indian science and technology.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen echoed Singh as he called for a concerted effort to root out the menace.

“Terrorism in India is not home grown. It is an import from outside which is slowly taking root in the country,” he told the delegates, including 2,000 scientists from across the country, who had assembled at the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University on the outskirts of the Andhra capital.

“It is a shame that the terrorists chose to attack scientists who worked for the wellbeing of the people.”

Professor C.N.R. Rao, the Prime Minister’s scientific adviser who received the Indian science award at the event, said terrorism has been spreading like a virus. “It should be contained before it hits the nerve centre of the country’s productive youth.”

It is a threat to knowledge-based economies like India, said professor I.V. Subba Rao, the president of the Indian Science Congress. “The terrorists are choosing soft targets to cause panic. But they cannot stop the scientific and economic strides of the country,” Subba Rao added.

Speaker after speaker lashed out at the invisible merchants of terror. Outside, a ring of steel surrounded the venue of the congress.

Over 7,000 policemen patrolled the area as the five-day meet began in the backdrop of last week’s attack in Bangalore and yesterday’s arrest of two militants and a huge haul of explosives, which state police said was meant for targeting the city’s infotech hub and other buildings.

Terrorism did cast its shadow on the conference, whose theme is Integrated Rural Development: Science and Technology, but the men of knowledge refused to be cowed down.

“No force on earth can weaken this resolve of the Indian people to close ranks among knowledge workers,” the Prime Minister asserted before going on to unveil a seven-point package to bring about a second green revolution.

Singh said the second green revolution should focus on increasing farm produce, developing affordable technologies for energy and water and promoting labour-using relevant technologies in both farm and non-farm business besides application of biotechnology to improve quality of seeds and livestock.

The Prime Minister said the technologies developed must be “affordable and relevant” to small and marginal farmers, especially in drought-prone regions.

Singh said scientists need to “bridge the development gap” between rural and urban India. “We must broaden the knowledge base of our farmers to enable them to make the best use of new technologies,” he added.

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