Source: Economic Times

The ease of doing research is as important as ease of doing business, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today as he promised the scientific community that he will cut red tape and pitched for greater academic freedom and autonomy to universities.

He also underscored the need for making investment in science and technology a part of corporate social responsibility and said digital connectivity must be “as much a basic right” as access to schools while calling for efforts to “revive the romance” of science in society and “rekindle” the love for it in children.

“When I speak of ease of doing business in India, I also want to pay equal attention to ease of doing research and development in India…. We need to put science, technology and innovation at the top of national priorities,” Modi, whose government has made a strong push for improving business environment to attract investment, said inaugurating the 102nd Indian Science Congress.

Reaching out to scientists, who often complain of bureaucratic hurdles and funding troubles for research, he said, “We want our scientists and researchers to explore the mysteries of science and not of government procedures. We want them to consider publications not government approvals.”

“Funding proposals should not take too long to clear. Meeting applications, requirements should not become more complex than research,” he said.

Emphasising on the need for spreading knowledge of technology, particularly among children, Modi said, “Let us use internet to bring our scientists in direct contact with our children and youth. Digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to schools.”

“Investment in science and technology activity should also become part of the expenditure on corporate social responsibility to be funded directly or through an autonomous fund,” he said.

Maintaining that a nation’s progress and its human development were linked to science and technology, he said China’s emergence as the second biggest economy was parallel to its rise to the second place in the field of scientific activity.

Stressing on the need for placing universities at the “cutting edge” of research and development activity, he said investment in the field at present was “far too concentrated” in the agencies of central government and called for making it broad based.

“Our universities must be freed from excessive regulations and cumbersome procedures. They must have a higher degree of academic freedom and autonomy. There must be as much emphasis on research as on teaching. In turn, the universities must also subscribe to highest standards of academic excellence and accountability,” he said.

Modi said he has placed science and technology at the forefront of the country’s diplomatic engagement.

The Prime Minister lauded Indian scientists for putting ‘Mangalyaan’ in the Mars orbit in the very first attempt for and saving thousands of lives through accurate forecast during cyclonic storm Hudhud.