BENGALURU: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday the Centre aims to develop India as a world-class $100-billion biomanufacturing hub by 2024. “This will happen with the right policy initiatives, support to innovative research, human resource development and an entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he said in his address after opening the five-day Indian Science Congress in Bengaluru. Globally, he added, India is already a leader in the supply of vaccines. The PM highlighted the need for ‘Make in India’ initiatives in medical devices so that people benefit from the fruits of advances in diagnosis. The country, he said, should eradicate tuberculosis in five years and save people from communicable diseases such as Nipah and Ebola. Towards this, he sought continuous efforts to introduce modern tools and concepts of contemporary biomedical research. ENERGY STORAGE The PM mentioned about the need for India to pursue a long-term roadmap for developing sustainable transportation and energy storage options. As India steps up its renewable energy output, storage options become increasingly significant for grid management. That throws up the need for developing new battery types which are based on earth-abundant and environmentally-benign materials. Modi said India’s road to progress passed through science and technology, and urged young scientists to ‘innovate, patent, produce and prosper’. “If we innovate, we will patent and that in turn will make our production smoother and, when we take these products to the people of our country, they will prosper.” In a couple of references to the farm sector, the PM highlighted the need for revolution in technologies targeting agricultural practices. “Can we find farmer-centric solutions to the problem of stubble burning for instance,” he asked. “Can we also redesign our brick kilns for reduced emissions and greater energy efficiency? How do we prevent effluents and discharge from industries from ruining our soil and our groundwater tables for years to come?” The government has already deployed information technology in the farm sector which, the PM said, has benefited farmers. “Today, farmers are able to sell their products directly to the market without being at the mercy of the middlemen. Digitalisation, ecommerce, internet banking and mobile banking services are assisting rural populations significantly. Today, farmers are getting the required information about the weather and forecasts at their fingertips through many e-governance initiatives.” According to the PM, there has been a large drop in deaths thanks to improvements in weather forecast and warning services, especially in the case of tropical cyclones. “The economic and social benefits of accurate weather and climate forecasting are immense,” he said, and urged scientists to achieve in deep-sea exploration what they have been able to do with space exploration. “We need to explore, map and responsibly harness the vast oceanic resources of water, energy, food and minerals.
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