Govt slow in responding to research needs: Sibal
Minister of Science and Technology Kapil Sibal on Monday called for stepping up research in biotechnology and nanotechnology while admitting that the Government was slow to respond to the needs of these sectors.
"It is necessary to support fundamental research in each area along with a convergence of various sciences. I believe our Government and bureaucracy is slow to respond to the needs of research," said Sibal addressing the Assocham Millennium Knowledge Summit IV organised by the leading industry lobby.
Focusing on the varied applications of biotechnology and nanotechnology, Sibal underlined that political support may be required to provide the momentum "to hasten the process of change".
Attended by a large scientific community including from the US and China, the key speaker at the summit was Nobel Laureate Harry Kroto who, in his address, highlighted that nanoscience had the potential to reduce costs with its multiple applications and the inherent ability to produce new materials like non-corroding and flexible iron.
The US National Science Foundation has forecast that the global market for nanotechnologies will reach $1 trillion or more within 20 years.
Nanotechnology is a branch of science and engineering devoted to the design and production of extremely small electronic devices and circuits built from individual atoms and molecules.
Kroto said: "Most near term (five year) applications of nanotechnology are in the form of nanomaterials. These include materials such as lighter and strong nano-composites and nano-structured catalysts. Nano-devices and nanoelectrics are further off, perhaps a decade hence."
Urging research funders to keep an open mind, he cited his own case to illustrate that the ultimate discovery may well be very different from what was expected to be the outcome when it was undertaken.
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee called for a "strong interface and closer interaction among the research and development laboratories, academia and industries for taking science and technology outcomes to the masses in the form of home grown technologies and products".
He highlighted some of the breakthrough products produced by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) like the transgenic tomatoes that can be grown at high altitudes and bio-digestors that can be utilised for environment friendly solutions for tackling waste.
Mukherjee said as India look forward to ushering in a second green revolution to double food production, biotechnology offered solutions while, in the defence sector, nanotechnology provided viable solutions for developing new protective and insulating textiles.
Underlining the need for commercialisation of research, Director General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) RA Mashelkar said the real challenge lay in looking beyond the existing technologies and their applications as research in both biotechnology and nanotechnology was still at an early stage.