CSIR Foundation Day

2.5 CSIR FOUNDATION DAY: Diamond Jubilee Concluding Function

The CSIR Diamond Jubilee celebrations concluded on 26 September 2003, after the year-long celebrations. The main function was held in the NPL Auditorium in New Delhi. Shri K.C. Pant, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission, was the Chief Guest and Shri Bachi Singh Rawat, Hon’ble Minister of State for Science and Technology, was the Guest of Honour. The unique feature of the function was felicitation of former CSIR Director Generals – Dr. A. Ramachandran, Prof. M.G.K. Menon, Dr. S. Varadarajan, Dr. A.P. Mitra and Dr. S.K. Joshi. (Dr. Ramachandran could not attend as he had gone abroad) and their addresses – ‘Looking back and looking forward’.

The function began with the visit to the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Exhibition, which had been organized at NPL, by Shri Pant, Shri Rawat, former CSIR Director Generals, a large number of distinguished scientists and the media personnel.

Dr. R.A. Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR extended hearty and warm welcome to Shri Bachi Singh Rawat, Hon’ble Minister of State for Science and Technology, Shri K.C. Pant and a large number of distinguished scientists and technologists present at the Foundation Day Function. Dr. Mashelkar then announced the winners of CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award, Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes and the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Invention Awards for school children for 2003. The first CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award has been given to Tata Motors for design, development, manufacturing and commercialization of Indica and Indigo cars. Dr. Mashelkar added that one hundred and sixteen applications had been received for CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award, which carries the cash award of Rs.10 lakh. A book, ‘Rang Vigyan Ke Rangeen Duniya’ (authored by Shri S.S. Sharma and Shri T.P. Pathak) and Journal of Rural Technology were released on the occasion.

Dr. Mashelkar in his welcome address said that the presence of Shri Pant is gracious and special to CSIR. A great philosopher, Shri Pant has been a Vice President, a Guru and Guide of CSIR, Shri Bachi Singh Rawat is providing an able leadership to CSIR. We very much miss Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development, Science and Technology and Ocean Development and Vice President of CSIR, who could not be present at today’s function. We express our gratitude to him for the way he has been providing leadership to Indian science and technology.

The past year, Dr. Mashelkar said, has been a very special year for CSIR – It was Council’s Diamond Jubilee Year. The celebrations, which started on 26 September 2002, are concluding today. Mentioning about the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Exhibition, he said, CSIR, over the past 61 years, has made remarkable contributions. Whether it is Saheli – the non-steroidal oral contraceptive, which a large number of women take; E-mal – which the doctors prescribe for the treatment of P. faliciparum and its complications like cerebral malaria; Asmon – the popular anti-asthematic, the famous handpump Mark-II, the Sonalika tractor and so many others, the people do not know that these are CSIR technologies. The exhibition has been serving to fill the gap between people and scientists. Depicting 60 major accomplishments of CSIR, this exhibition has gone not only to major cities like Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai, but also to smaller cities/remote corners of the country like Karaikudi, Kurukshetra, Gangtok, Amritsar, Bilaspur, Imphal, Shillong, Patna, Pondichery, and so many other places, making a significant impact.

Dr. Mashelkar mentioned about the various initiatives taken by CSIR during its Diamond Jubilee Year. These include the institution of ‘Diamond Jubilee Invention Awards for School Children’, ‘Diamond Jubilee Technology Awards’, and ‘Diamond Jubilee CSIR Internship Awards’ (with CSIR’s own money). Stating that CSIR today is the leader in patents filing, Dr. Mashelkar said that it attained the number one position in patent filing in 2002 among the developing countries. He also made a mention of the New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) under which a no. of network projects are being pursued. Reiterating the CSIR’s commitment for overall progress of the country, Dr Mashelkar recalled the Bangalore Declaration: “India matters to us and we want to matter to India – more and more”.

The announcement of the Diamond Jubilee Technology Award was followed by warm felicitations to the former Director Generals of CSIR. The felicitations included a shawl, a memento and a citation. The citations were: Dr. A. Ramachandran- “brought clarity to CSIR system”, Prof. M.G.K. Menon- “brought human bonding and Self confidence” and showed CSIR “cares for its people”, Dr. Varadarajan- “great leadership, human qualities and for bringing system’s approach, Dr. A.P. Mitra- “an evergreen scientist” and Dr S.K. Joshi “made CSIR to face the challenges very efficiently”.

Dr. Mashelkar then requested Shri Rawat to address the gathering:

“Respected Shri Pant ji, Dr. Mashelkar, Dr. Vikram Kumar, distinguished invitees and friends,

May I begin by wishing the entire CSIR family, spread throughout the country, ‘many happy returns of the day’. May CSIR continue to have still more laurels and achieve even more successes in the service of the nation. CSIR has many firsts to its credit in science, technology, extramural human resource development and even in management of R&D. It has pioneered and spearheaded many new initiatives – like it is presently spearheading the creation of a civilian aircraft manufacturing industry in the country on one hand and leading the intellectual property movement, not only in India but even internationally, on the other. The result is the design, development and fabrication of a 14 seater ‘SARAS’ aircraft ready to begin flight-testing before the close of the year and the setting up of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) to protect our traditional knowledge from being misappropriated. There are many other contributions of CSIR that are intangible, like enhancing the ‘national innovation capacity’ by skills formation. It is these very intangibles that help create an enabling environment in which tangibles can be delivered by other constituents’.

I see that in its characteristic style, CSIR has mounted two path setting initiatives in its Diamond Jubilee year, the first being the institution of the Diamond Jubilee Invention Awards for School Children and the other, the Diamond Jubilee Technology Award for Innovation that has done the nation proud. Through these initiatives, CSIR is seeking to reach out and help create a ‘national innovation climate’ that would enhance our ability to move forward and derive the benefits of a knowledge society.

I applaud the Young Scientist Awardees who have excelled themselves in research; I know their work is of a high order. While CSIR has done well in recent years in terms of quality and quantity of its scientific output, the national output in science has somewhat stagnated over a decade. This is in spite of the increasing investments and manpower engaged in R&D. It reflects on our psyche, that we, as a nation, do not seem to have the ‘leadership instinct’ – we are content to be mere followers. We need consciously to break away from this follower syndrome and set the mind of our youth free to think non-linearly and out-of-the-box. Indian science in times to come should be based on daring and creativity. It is only then that the quality of Indian science will rise commensurate with our aspirations of being a significant contributor to the global knowledge society. The Bhatnagar awards for the year 2003 that were announced today by Dr. Mashelkar represent the very best of science. I will like to congratulate them heartily.

Our economy is on the upswing, especially on the industrial front. We see a great upsurge in select sectors such as pharma, automotive and IT. The innovation in the pharma sector was inevitable due to the modifications and changes anticipated in the Indian Patents Act as a consequence of TRIPS. But, the development in the automotive sector has been truly self-driven. We see for the first time a confidence of Indian automotive industry to invest in their own development – a feature that was hitherto generally found missing in the Indian industry. Thus, wide ranging innovations are now visible in the automotive sector in the two-wheelers, four-wheelers and even heavy vehicles – practically the entire range of on-the-road vehicles.

I am thus heartened to see that Tata Motors has bagged the first ever CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award for its pioneering development of Indica and Indigo cars. This paradigm has given confidence and fillip to other Indian players to venture out, to innovate and to invest. In short, it shows that one needs to be daring and prepared to take risks. Such successes will instill the needed confidence in the other Indian industry players to chart out and move on to the untrodden and rewarding path of innovation.

I note that in order to help Indian industry adopt a new syndrome of leadership, CSIR has initiated a New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative (NMITLI) that seeks to capture for the Indian industry a global leadership position through public-private partnership. In the NMITLI endeavour, Government is firmly convinced that it must be a patron and partner of the industrial and technology systems to ensure an advantage for the nation in the global arena. We only seek to optimize the returns from the limited national resources by fostering synergy between all the key constituents in the techno-commercial game. I am happy to know that the initiative has already started bearing fruits. Dr Mashelkar has just told us that Tata Consultancy Services is launching a ‘lead-of-the-art’ software for bio-informatics. This augurs well for the nation. I am sure there will be many other successes to follow..

Dr. Mashelkar requested Shri Pant to address the distinguished audience.

Shri Pant,”It gives me great pleasure to be here amongst this galaxy of scientists and technologists on the occasion of the concluding function of CSIR Diamond Jubilee year. The Council of Scientific & Industrial Research is perhaps among the world’s largest publicly funded R&D organizations, and is the most visible star that adorns the Indian S&T firmament. A sapling was planted with the establishment of the ‘Board of Scientific & Industrial Research’ (BSIR) in April; 1940 as a result of the untiring efforts of Sir A. Ramaswami Mudaliar, an outstanding visionary of his times, and eminent scientists like Dr. S.S. Bhatnagar and Dr. M.N. Saha. This has now grown into a big tree. The dedicated efforts of Dr. S.S. Bhatnagar and the continued support provided by the Government of India to nurturing and strengthening scientific and industrial research resulted in the rapid expansion of national laboratories up to the mid-1950s and in building up a wide spectrum of competencies in CSIR. Today CSIR has a network of 38 world class R&D establishments and 47 field stations spread across the country, which are manned by nearly 10,000 highly qualified scientists and technologists besides 13,000 auxiliary and other staff. Its scientific manpower, expertise, and well developed network of facilities, enables it to undertake a variety of tasks and services, as well as to visualize, develop and validate need-based technological solutions.

CSIR has many attainments and achievements that the nation is proud of and its activities cover practically the entire range of industrial R&D, from aerospace to mining to micro-electronics to metallurgy and so on. CSIR, today, is not only the major technology source for an array of industries, offering both technologies and also specific technological solutions on demand, but also a global R&D resource. Its patrons and partners hail from over 50 countries. The world knows that India possesses very deep and wide technological expertise and capabilities of a standard that can compete internationally. The image projected by the CSIR goes to confirm this impression.

At the dawn of the new millennium the world is becoming increasingly integrated in terms of information, R&D trade, investments, manufacturing and services. Comparative advantage is shifting away from physical endowments to those with brainpower to absorb, assimilate and adopt the spectacular developments in science and technology. There has been a sea change in the economic, political and technological environment world over. Age-old attitudes and mindsets are being discarded everywhere. India has been no exception; its economy has been unshackled and the forces of competition have been unleashed. A new vision of India as a major player in the global setting has been articulated. The wave of change sweeping the country and the world has thrown open vast opportunities, and at the same time posed daunting challenges for all sections of Indian society. Liberalisation and globalisation have opened new dimensions to our R&D community especially in the context of WTO and the TRIPS agreement. The aftermath of recent nuclear tests by India has also thrown up additional challenges for Indian science. Advanced commercial and strategic technologies acquired by the developed world are zealously guarded, and unless India has the ability to create its own base of autonomous technology and innovations, it cannot be the master of its own destiny.

India is a large country, facing formidable challenges in development as well as security, and its technology requirements also span a correspondingly wide range. It has to continue to develop strategic technologies relating to nuclear, space and defence applications, combined with information security and development of technologies denied to India under the so called technology control regimes. It must be remembered that nation development and national security are two sides of the same coin.

Under the WTO regime, the main challenges are in the areas of knowledge and technology, and these could be addressed by enhancing the protection of Intellectual Property Rights. While major efforts have been made to create awareness amongst the scientists and technologists of the country through the Patent Facilitating Centre, which provides assistance in patenting innovations emanating from university-funded and Government-funded research programmes; the institutional structure seems to be preventing others from securing Intellectual Property Rights on Indian products and traditional knowledge. Therefore, a proactive approach to encourage patenting is urgently called for.

Throughout its history, Indian society has demonstrated its, innate ability to develop, absorb and use innovative products and services. We may have lost this edge over the years, but I believe that India can once again attain competitive advantage in the global market place on the strength of its S&T intellectual capital and skill base. The scientific exploration and technological exploitation of our vast natural resources, such as our biodiversity, our traditional and community knowledgebase, our long coastal zones and oceans, our mineral wealth etc., need to be accelerated to derive the fullest benefit from them for the nation. We should take note of the global developments that have resulted in increasing outsourcing of R&D, and growing willingness towards global S&T collaboration. CSIR needs to leverage its advantages to explore global opportunities to the fullest extent, while continuing to solve local problems and harnessing endogenous resources for generating economic wealth.

Some of the newly industrialized countries have been successful in achieving technological advancement and economic growth by dovetailing technology imports with domestic R&D endeavours. In India, till recently, the two main players in the innovation chain, viz., the R&D system and industry enterprises lacked the sprit of partnership in achieving the common objective of national development. The domestic R&D system, which is mainly confined to publicly funded Government owned institutions, has thus far done rather well in strategic and noncompetitive areas of R&D and technological development, such as aerospace, atomic energy and agriculture, but its impact on the commercially-oriented industry and services sector has been minimal. However, the shift towards a networked knowledge economy has given rise to the necessity of collective effort by industry, the R&D establishment, academia and the government through formal as well as informal cooperation among the constituents. The process of globalisation is compelling both the publicly funded R&D establishment and industry to enter into a dialogue and work together to mutual advantage. Our R&D priorities must match our technology goals except perhaps in basic research, which requires a high degree of intellectual freedom. In order to prevent technology domination by the developed world, India must develop self-reliance in all technology fields, much in the same way as it has done in the field of nuclear and space sciences. Today, India need not view self-reliance narrowly as we had done in the past by equating it with self-sufficiency. We can and must go in for international scientific and technological cooperation. But this cooperation must be as between equal partners, not donors and recipients.

It is matter of great satisfaction for all of us to learn that CSIR, having realized the urgency and the needs of the changed circumstances in the wake of global developments, has reoriented its activities to explore global opportunities. It has carried out a Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threat (SWOT) analysis for each laboratory and also for each sector. This has led to the formulation of focused programmes for undertaking innovative research, application and development of technology, commercialization of technology and technology transfer, especially to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). As a result, CSIR has achieved resounding success in the IPR domain, from the battle of turmeric to the adoption of Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) in the international patent search, but the road ahead is uneven and uncertain. The global IPR regime is presently in a state of flux and there are major issues of traditional knowledge, genomic sequences, copyright, etc. that need to be taken up rationally. The stakes are high and CSIR has to play a key role in securing the interests of this country in the unfolding scenario.

The unprecedented success achieved by CSIR through its New Millennium Indian Technology Leadership Initiative to bring about public private partnership is praise worthy. This has now to be replicated on a much wider canvas if the country is to make a durable impact. Further, recognizing the changing context of scientific enterprise and national needs in the new era of globalisation, it must be ensured that the message of science reaches every citizen of India, man and woman, young and old, so that we emerge as a progressive and enlightened society. The acquisition of a scientific temper will make it possible for all our people to participate fully in the development of science and technology and its application for human welfare.

On this concluding day of the Diamond Jubilee Year of CSIR, I recall the following words of Dr. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, the founder Director of CSIR and one of the outstanding personalities in Indian science.

“We can see today the dim lights of a new dawn in the distant horizon of Indian progress. These faint radiations are not the vanishing streaks of our glorious past; they are the sure signs of a new birth full of promise and glory for the future. This dawn represents the birth of the industrial movement in India”.

The dim lights and faint radiations seen by Dr. Bhatnagar in 1938 are no longer dim or faint. With outstanding achievements to its credit, Indian science and technology has dazzled the world in many areas and will continue to do so in the days to come. Whether the industrial sector in India will attain the full vigour of adulthood or will continue to require sustenance from public support systems will depend largely upon the extent to which it internalizes the responsibility for technological development.

Dr. Bhatnagar was an outstanding scientist-administrator and educationist, whose life and work is a shining example of what human effort is capable of achieving. He rose from a very humble beginning to occupy some of the highest scientific posts in the country and left behind a truly remarkable record of achievements. He not only earned an international reputation by his valuable work in various branches of science, which contributed substantially to the industrial development of India, but was also responsible for fulfilling the vision of Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India – by putting India on the scientific map of the world. He had the quality of translating all odds into opportunities, Behind the realization of his dream of creating a strong scientific and industrial R&D system in the country lay the restless energy, drive and single-mindedness of a practical visionary, Dr. Bhatnagar was also instrumental in the setting up of the Indian Standards Institution and the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre (INSDOC) with technical assistance from UNESCO. A National Register was also started which contained full particulars in respect of the qualifications and experience of Indian scientists in India and abroad. He took personal interest in promoting the activities of scientific organizations in India and was closely associated with the Atomic Energy Commission as Member Secretary and also with the University Grants Commission as its Chairman. I knew Dr. Bhatnagar and will never forget his kindness and encouragement. I pay my respectful tribute to a nation-builder for his outstanding contribution to the advancement of Science in India and the growth of CSIR to its present status.

In the end, I would like to thank DG, CSIR for inviting me to participate in an epochal event and to felicitate the award winners.

I am sure that in the years ahead, CSIR can and will reach still higher pinnacles of attainments. On this concluding function of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, my best wishes to CSIR for a still more glorious path ahead. Jai Hind. Jai Vigyan”.

Dr. Vikram Kumar, Director, National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi, proposed a vote of thanks.