President of India
Home » Speeches

In Hindi


Puducherry, 21st December 2007


It gives me great pleasure to be in Puducherry an important centre of national political awakening and of our intellectual and philosophical thought. Puducherry is linked with the lives of two great personalities of India - Sri Aurobindo Ghose and Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi. It was here in Puducherry that Sri Aurobindo attained spiritual enlightenment and wrote his celebrated works including Life Divine and Savitri. It was in Puducherry that the great poet Subramanya Bharathi took refuge from the British. He lived here and wrote inspiring verses which are a part of our national ethos.

It is an honour to inaugurate the 34th Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Exhibition for Children, an exhibition very appropriately named after our first Prime Minister. Nothing was closer to the heart of Panditji than children - whom he considered as the biggest asset of the nation. Similarly, Panditji felt that there was no greater tool than science to shape the destiny of humankind. Pandit Nehru was of the opinion that science was capable of bringing far reaching changes. He would say and I quote, "science is the spirit of the age and the dominating factor of the modern world. Even more than the present, the future belongs to science and to those who make friends with science and seek its help for the advancement of humanity." Unquote

The central theme for this year's exhibition is - "Science and Technology for Sustainable Development". Science and Technology are essential for development and sustainable development hinges on them. The work of the scientific community should be harnessed for winning the war on poverty and achieving equitable growth. Reducing economic disparities among people and between nations is a real challenge. The scientific community has a social responsibility to improve the quality of life of all and a global responsibility to advance peace and to nurture a healthy planet.

Science has enormous potential for bringing prosperity and advancement of the nation. Scientific knowledge and its applications will bring progress to the country and the development of scientific temper will result in a progressive society.

Application of science and technology for development should be made an integral part of people's life. People should be made to realize the role played by science in their daily lives. Government, NGOs and individuals should help in popularizing science by conducting awareness programmes to make science understandable to the people at large. The outreach efforts should expand through diverse media like print media, electronic media and the internet. Research and development efforts should be designed to serve the people of the country and, indeed of the world. Apart from working on cutting edge technologies, scientists should also find low cost technological solutions that are easy to implement and within the reach of the end-users. Better farming techniques, low energy intensive machines, and disease prevention are some areas which can greatly benefit from new technologies. Interaction between the scientific community and the general public will establish a two way communication, where scientists can understand the needs of people and incorporate it in their research, and people get an opportunity to explain their requirements and problems to researchers.

In this exhibition, I saw some interesting models and exhibits made by children for agricultural operations as well as industrial activity. I would like to congratulate the children for their creative minds and innovative ideas. I encourage them to continue to invent, innovate and do research for the advancement of science and its application for the welfare of the society.

It is important that we create the right conditions in the country so that children have an opportunity to blossom into scientists and inventors of tomorrow. The world is changing fast and skills like flexibility, innovation and creativity are now required. It is important that the educational system bears this in mind and shifts emphasis from merely memorizing lessons to strengthening creativity. Our educational system should develop the power of observation and analytical capacity of the children. Education, therefore, should encourage children to examine and analyze everyday experiences and make them search for solutions to problems. Interactive methodology of teaching should be used to create and sustain the interest of children in science. Nothing is more fascinating than understanding the wonders of astronomy, the diversity of nature, the functioning of the human body, and the principles of how machines work and how to make them more effective and efficient. The teachers, on their part, have an obligation to dispel fear in the minds of young children that science is a tough subject. Teachers, when they spot aptitude for science amongst students, should nourish these talents.

The number of students opting for science after the secondary school stage has dropped, according to a study, from 32 per cent in the early 1950s to 19.7 per cent in recent years. More, significantly, in the 1950s the brightest entered science but today's 19.7 per cent is from the lower middle level. This shows that young students, particularly the brighter ones, are drifting away from science. The choice of National Talent Search awardees also reflects this trend in recent years. Of the 750 awardees, hardly 100 opt for science and only 15 - 20 per cent pursues science to the post-graduation level. Peer pressure, the changing socio-economic situation, and market mechanisms have further added to the process of the drift away from basic sciences to professional courses, with the lure of high salaries as you step out like commerce, management, information technology, and biotechnology. Governments and institutions should make efforts including chalking out some schemes to attract more students to take up basic science and research activities. We must also look at better-equipped laboratories in schools, colleges and universities as also enhance scholarships and investment in research activities.

The population of the world has already crossed six billion and India accounts for one sixth of this population. Meeting the needs of a large population will be compounded further by poverty, hunger, malnutrition and illiteracy in a few decades, if appropriate steps are not taken immediately. To face the situation squarely, it would be important to adopt a scientific approach to these challenges. There is a need to make children aware of the issues relating to energy, depletion of natural resources, and pollution of the environment. Towards this end, our younger generation needs to be made responsible and responsive to all issues which have a direct bearing on development.

In today's knowledge based society, having a sound knowledge base and a scientific temperament is important. I, therefore, urge children to study well, gain knowledge, discover the wonders of the world and acquire the skills and capacities to be good scientists, researchers, inventors and innovators. Also, at the same time, it is important that children follow the traditional Indian values of truth, tolerance, respect for elders and welfare of fellow human beings so as to preserve the rich heritage of our country.

Before I conclude, I would like to thank the Government of Puducherry and the National Council of Educational Research and Training for organizing the exhibition.

With these words, I have great pleasure in declaring the 34th Jawaharlal Nehru National Science Exhibition for Children open.

Thank you.


Disclaimer: Website designed by National Informatics Centre. Contents Provided By President’s Secretariat.