With Science & Technology, India forging cooperation with countries: Harsh Vardhan

We have learnt to harness the soft prowess of science and technology as an important pillar of our cooperation in the knowledge economy of the 21st century

New Delhi, Dec 24 (Agency) India has harnessed its soft power of Science and Technology to forge cooperation with countries and followed a need-based model, especially in the neighbourhood, Science and Technology Minister Harshvardhan emphasised this on Thursday, while addressing the ‘Overseas Science & Technology Ministers and Diplomats conclave’ at the India International Science Festival 2020, being held virtually. ‘We have learnt to harness the soft prowess of science and technology as an important pillar of our cooperation in the knowledge economy of the 21st century,’ he said.

Informing that the Science and Technology and Earth Sciences ministries are actively cooperating with 44 countries across the globe, the Minister said, ‘The present cooperation in research and development is driven by a sense of mutual trust and purpose in achieving together ‘high quality’ and ‘high impact’ partnerships. ‘This cooperation extends to capacity building in the academic research arena as well,’ added Mr Vardhan. He pointed out that India has always believed in sharing knowledge, technology and know-how with countries facing similar developmental challenges. ‘The Department of Science and Technology is facilitating the Indian scientific community to connect with researchers from countries like Australia, ASEAN countries, Brazil, Japan, Portugal, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, United States and Uzbekistan, to find solutions against COVID-19 through joint research projects,’ Mr Vardhan added. He said that for neighbourhood countries, such as Afghanistan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, a unique model of need-based, entity-to-entity cooperation has been judiciously adopted.

‘This has been done with the defining perspective to jointly address the national needs of these countries through S&T enabled cooperation,’ said Mr Vardhan. The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the belief in innovation and R&D to accelerate products and services that not only help in disease management, but also enhance the level of preparedness for future outbreaks, the Minister observed. He drew the attention of the conclave, saying ‘There are many other challenges which the world is readying to face in the post COVID-19 era, such as climate change, energy and water security, and anti-microbial resistance, to name a few. ‘To face these challenges, we must rethink on how research is funded, we need to re-visualise which research is being funded and re-imagine newer ways of cooperation on this front,’ he added. While Minister from Uzbekistan appreciated India’s stellar efforts in combating COVID-19 and sought collaboration with India in vaccine development, Ministers from Afghanistan, Myanmar, Philippines and Cambodia evinced keenness in India’s assistance in development of higher education institutes in their countries, cooperation in S & T and scholarships for their students for higher studies in India.

Mr Vardhan assured them of making sincere efforts to their proposals. He called for strengthening the use of science and technology in policy making. ‘We must strengthen the use of science in policy, build public trust in science, ensure ‘open science’, universal access to solutions, and expedite action in response to scientific findings and innovation,’ added the Minister.