Bengaluru: IT industry veteran N R Narayana Murthy on Thursday said India is still a long way off in solving its “grand problems” relating to areas like nutrition and shelter, as he stressed that it requires a cultural transformation of the Indian mindset.
The founder of IT major Infosys also highlighted the need to recognise frontline research warriors in war against India’s “grand problems”.
“Our country is making scientific and engineering progress. We have sent rockets and satellites into space. We have built steel plants, power plants, and huge dams. We have produced Covid vaccines. We do heart and kidney transplants,” Murthy said.
“However, India is still a long way off from solving its grand problems of education, healthcare, nutrition, and shelter for everyone of its 1.4 billion Indians,” he said addressing the gathering at the inauguration of the new building of Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) here virtually, he said.
“As people interested in science, mathematics, and engineering, we must think about how science, mathematics, and engineering can solve our grand problems. I understand that such grand problems cannot be solved by science, mathematics, and engineering alone. It requires a cultural transformation of the Indian mindset, and that is where social science becomes extremely important,” he added.
The inauguration of a new office at Jayanagar in Bengaluru was attended by the trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation including S Gopalakrishnan, K Dinesh, Nandan Nilekani, T V Mohandas Pai and S D Shibulal, as well as several laureates and jurors of the Infosys Prize.
He said he does not know of any nation that has solved the problems of poverty and ill-health and attained economic prosperity without using the power of the human mind to solve its problems.
Murthy, who is also the trustee of ISF, said, “Our science, mathematics, and engineering researchers are the country’s front-line warriors in our war against our grand problems. That is why we must encourage them.”
“Some winners of the Infosys Prize have gone on to do useful work in their desire to solve some of these daunting problems,” he said.
Murthy further noted that the ISF believes in the words of former US president Theodore Roosevelt that the true test of a country’s progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; but it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.
“Our little contribution in this war against India’s grand problems is to recognise these front-line researcher-warriors, applaud them, honor them, and reward them. We are proud to be doing this year after year,” he added.
Another ISF trustee and Infosys co-founder Gopalakrishnan highlighted the need for investing more money into research.
“….(investment should go up) from 0.7 per cent of GDP to about 3 per cent of the GDP; of this the private contribution must be at least 1.5 per cent from 0.1 per cent today, which is 15 times what we are investing,” he said.
Philanthropy, CSR and industry supporting research – all these are required to create a true knowledge society, he said, adding that no other city other than Bengaluru can play a role for this.
ISF officials said the new space is a much needed addition to the scientific and cultural landscape of Bengaluru and India at large. It is a place for dialogue, and the meeting of minds and exchange of ideas.
ISF gives the Infosys Prize to Indian scientists and scholars working on path-breaking research. The prize was instituted in 2009 to elevate the prestige of science and research in India and inspire young Indians to choose research as a vocation.
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