October 19, 2010

PM's address at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Hyderabad campus of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

I am delighted to be here today amongst this distinguished gathering of scientists from the atomic energy community. It is befitting that Hyderabad, which has emerged as a knowledge and technology centre of repute, should be chosen as the site for the new campus of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. I would like to congratulate the Government of Andhra Pradesh and the Hon'ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh for inviting the TIFR to set up its new campus in Hyderabad in these beautiful environs.


It was 56 years ago that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of the Colaba Campus of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai. From modest beginnings, TIFR has emerged as a centre of research, knowledge and learning of international repute. It has been closely associated with many of the advances our country has made in the frontiers of scientific research.


From its origins in nuclear science and mathematics, TIFR's activities now encompass all branches of the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science and science education. TIFR today has centres for biological sciences, radio astrophysics, applied mathematics, and theoretical sciences, as well as several field stations and facilities at various locations in the country.


These achievements and distinctions were made possible on account of the vision, foresight and leadership of one of India's greatest scientists and leaders - that was Homi Bhabha. It is very appropriate that the new campus of the TIFR is being opened during the birth centenary of Dr. Homi Bhabha. Over nation owes Dr. Bhabha a deep debt of gratitude for his pioneering efforts in putting India on the scientific map of the world.


It is largely owing to Dr. Bhabha's institution building abilities that the TIFR blossomed in its early years. He developed the institution with great care and thought and was proud of the fact that, unlike other national laboratories which systematically filled up posts through advertisement, the TIFR sought to recruit men and women of talent wherever they could be found. I hope this spirit of patriotic endeavour and creative enterprise, free of bureaucratic shackles, will guide and inspire the scientists and researchers who will work here in the Hyderabad campus.


The scientific and technological prowess of a nation is a major determinant of its state of development. Innovation and knowledge will be the key factors in our nation's progress in the 21st century. We must, therefore, foster an environment that promotes and nurtures scientific achievement and makes us a world leader in creating intellectual property.


For this, it is essential to strengthen our scientific infrastructure, draw the brightest minds to scientific research, and create institutions of the highest standards of excellence. Scientific development is an integral part of the journey of our country towards inclusive, balanced and sustainable growth.


It is thanks to the vision and efforts of our founding fathers that our country today has a well diversified and advanced knowledge base.


But we cannot rest on our past glories. We have two important objectives for the future as we seek to build on what we have achieved and the capacities we have developed. First, we need to expand our human resource pool in the area of science and technology to maintain our competitive advantage in the knowledge economy. Second, we need to create a stimulating institutional environment that can engender a full flowering of our vast, latent capacities through innovation and pursuit of excellence.


One of the scientists who won this year's Nobel Prize for Chemistry, I am told, did his work at the Hokkaido University in northern Japan. I think there must be some lessons that we can learn and imbibe from such instances of outstanding work done in universities in Asia. Is it team work, a highly professional work culture or a system that is strongly result - oriented? We should reflect on these issues if we are going to match the great universities and laboratories of the world in times of creativity and pursuit of novelty.


In this context, I am happy to note the three main elements of the vision of TIFR's new campus:


- the unification of traditional disciplines under common themes, while maintaining the rigour of individual disciplines;


- the convergence of fundamental and applied sciences so as to facilitate the emergence of new frontier technologies;


- and the unification of teaching and research in ways that reinforce each other.


If this Institute is to live up to this vision, it will have to create a nurturing environment in which big ideas are born and then brought to fruition.


I convey my good wishes to the TIFR. I specially congratulate Dr Srikumar Banerjee, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and Professor Mustansir Barma, Director, TIFR, and all those who have worked hard to make this day possible.


In conclusion, I would like to recall the words of our first Prime Minister, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who, while laying the foundation stone for the TIFR's Mumbai campus in 1954, said, "We have first rate ability and we can develop it. And this institute... is one of the major ways in which we want to develop that ability, with those opportunities for fundamental research, which is so basic today if we are to understand the world today and the constant changes that are taking place in human knowledge."


I have great pleasure in laying the foundation stone of the new TIFR Campus. I have no doubt that it will become a world class institution and epitomise the spirit of inquiry and zest for knowledge bequeathed to Indian science by Dr. Homi Bhabha."