"The most important role of science and society is to teach human values. Science teaches us to embrace honesty, develops openness to new ideas and a sense of skeptical scrutiny of all ideas. It develops openness of dialogue and accountability, combined with tolerance and acceptance of opposing points of view."
These views were expressed by Dr KS Chugh, emeritus professor of nephrology, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, while addressing students at the 39th annual convocation of Guru Nanak Dev University on Friday.
Delivering his address on "Science and society", Dr Chugh said that advancements in medical science had revolutionised the treatment of many diseases and directly impacted humans. "The transplantation of human organs, the advent of dialysis, open heart surgery, use of bone marrow stem cells for treating leukaemia, in-vitro fertilisation and availability of potent antibiotics, immunosuppressive drugs and vaccines are some of the examples of these advancements," he said.
Presenting the flip side, Dr Chugh said that unbridled use of monitors and increasing dependence on more sophisticated devices in advanced countries had not only increased the cost of healthcare but had also eroded the doctor-patient relationship.
"This is depriving the patients of the most-needed modality of treatment: the human touch. We in the medical profession must apply a humanistic, judicious and rational approach while treating our patients," he said.
Dr Chugh said that the perception of Western countries that India had distinguished scientists but did not have its own distinguished science was not true.
"Science in India has made steady progress, which is obvious from the setting up of institutes like the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, premier medical and research institutes of national importance and many others which have placed India among the frontline nations of the world in terms of technological advancements," he said.
Dr Chugh also talked of the misuse of scientific discoveries like nuclear energy and said that the youth of India need to address various problems confronting the nation.
Earlier, vice-chancellor Prof AS Brar presided over the convocation and awarded a Doctor of Science (honoris causa) degree to Dr Chugh and a degree of Doctor of Law (honoris causa) to Dr Shivraj B Nakade, an able administrator and a well-known scholar of constitutional laws and international law.
Dr Nakade said in his address that universities had become a source of future leaders for the state, nation and the world at large. He advised students to read thought-provoking books and sacred texts, which would infuse a new vigour for imagination, self-realisation and self-transformation in their minds.
In his welcome address, the V-C welcomed the guests and enlisted the achievements of the university. Dr Rajinderjit Kaur Pawar, dean, academic affairs, presented the vote of thanks. Dr Inderjit Singh, registrar of the university, was also present.
More than 800 degrees and medals in various disciplines, including PhD, MPhil, MBA, MTech, MCA, LLM, MLib, MBE, MCom, MSc, MA, BTech, BSc, BCA, LLB and BLib, were awarded at the convocation. Punjab governor and GNDU chancellor awarded the postgraduate degrees, while the vice-chancellor gave away the undergraduate degrees.