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He kindled interest in science…

Dr T Ramasami had an ‘inspiring’ tenure (IE July Issue) as Secretary, Department of Science and Technology at the Technology Bhavan, New Delhi.

The most striking feature of this was his ability to get a sharp focus on science with a massive step up of allocation. In this he had the unstinted support of the then prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh who gave him a free hand of sorts. In the 12th Plan, for instance, there has been a nine-fold increase in allocation for science. The creation of a number of Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) was the first major attempt to open institutes of higher education in science after six decades of setting up such institutes for technology (IITs). Ramasami introduced the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) programme to kindle interest in science. He expressed satisfaction over the enormous interest this has kindled. He is confident that the number of scientists would increase from the present 1.7 lakh to over 7.5 lakh in quick time.

"We received 26,000 applications from top rank holders. We offered attractive scholarships and selected 3500 for the pursuit of PhD programmes. 60 per cent of these are women and the largest number opted for research in agricultural science."

"Under the INSPIRE programme, we targeted top one per cent of the students from secondary schools numbering 2.1 lakh, organised 901 camps and presented 50 Nobel Laureates to interact with these. Over 55,000 children opted for the B.Sc. course. Good success in weaning aspirants from medical, engineering, commerce and arts courses!"


"DST conducted a nation-wide search for talent and selected top schools. Children of these got 44 patents and 210 more are under evaluation. The students are 10-15 years old! DST arranged for those students selected for national award for science, for tea with the President of India at the historic banquet hall of Rashtrapathi Bhawan."

 

In his meeting with researchers and academics at MIT, Boston, Ramasami explained the opportunities available in India. Of the scientists he interacted with, 220 expressed interest in working in India and 74 responded immediately. Within weeks of his returning to Chennai, he prepared six detailed reports on science policy. This human dynamo has brought about the qualitative change to the working of the Technology Bhawan.   – SV

 

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