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Narendra Modi addresses Indian Science Congress in Tirupati, highlights cyber-physical systems

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the five-day annual Indian Science Congress being held at the Sri Venkateswara University in Tirupati. This time the conference focuses on 'Science and Technology for National Development' even as previous prime ministers have usually shared their vision and approach for science in India in their address. They have also used it as a platform to make policy announcements.

The prime minister took the opportunity to start his address by talking about infrastructure and investments. He said that "tomorrow's experts will come from investments we make today in our people and infrastructure. We need to keep an eye on the rise of disruptive technologies and be prepared to leverage them for growth."

Modi emphasised that the current government was committed to supporting different streams of scientific knowledge from fundamental science to applied science with an emphasis on innovations. He said that the country's best science and technology institutions should further strengthen their basic research in line with leading global standards. "Translating this basic knowledge into innovations, start-ups and industry will help us achieve inclusive and sustainable growth...Science must meet the rising aspirations of our people... Another empowering factor for scientific delivery is the ease of doing science. If we want science to deliver, we must not constrain it," he said.

The prime minister also touched upon the importance of social responsibility of science and said, "Concept of Scientific Social Responsibility needs to be inculcated to connect our leading institutions to all stakeholders."

Modi specifically addressed Cyber-Physical Systems and expressed that there "is a need to develop and exploit these technologies in services and manufacturing sectors."

What are Cyber-Physical Systems? 

Modi mentioned Cyber-Physical Systems in his speech, but what are they exactly? According to leading scholars in the field, CPS are "integrations of computation, networking, and physical processes... The economic and societal potential of such systems is vastly greater than what has been realised, and major investments are being made worldwide to develop the technology."

The technology builds upon the discipline of embedded systems and it "integrates the dynamics of the physical processes with those of the software and networking, providing abstractions and modelling, design, and analysis techniques for the integrated whole".

How was this speech any different from last year? 

Modi's address at the 104th Indian Science Congress was fairly vague. He didn't take this is as an opportunity to make interesting or disruptive policy announcements but stuck to making statements that were quite general in nature — "achieve inclusive and sustainable growth," "Goverment is committed to supporting different streams of scientific knowledge from fundamental science to applied science with emphasis on innovations," etc. There was nothing concrete in these statements.

At last year's Science Congress, as an earlier Firstpost article points out, the government's support for research and development got passing references.

The main venue for the Science Congress is the Tarakarama Stadium in the university where the prime minister addressed the gathering of eminent scientists including Nobel laureates. Six Nobel Prize winners from different countries such as the US, Japan, Israel, France and Bangladesh took part in the event besides about 14,000 scientists and scholars from across the country. The Nobel laureates will also be felicitated with gold medals by the prime minister at the ISC venue.

It is the second time that Tirupati is hosting the Indian Science Congress, the first being in 1983 when the 70th ISC was held. This is the 104th conference.

A thick security blanket has been thrown over Tirupati and Tirumala in view of the prime minister's visit and the Science Congress.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jan 03, 2017 16:14 PM

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