Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh called upon the countries of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) to join hands to innovate affordable scientific solutions for common challenges like ensuring food, affordable healthcare and energy access for its people.
Addressing the SCO meeting through virtual mode, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the member countries must jointly address emerging challenges of environmental problems like climate change and biodiversity loss. The Minister conveyed the best wishes for a successful summit in the historic city of Samarkand in September 2022 under the Chairmanship of Uzbekistan and assured India’s full support and active participation in all jointly agreed activities that will be organised during the SCO Samarkand Summit.
Dr Jitendra Singh recalled that Prime Minister Modi at SCO Dushanbe Summit in 2021, called for making the region a stakeholder in emerging technologies so that it can compete with the developed world. He said “For this, we have to encourage our talented youth towards science and rational thinking,” and added that this kind of thinking and innovative spirit can be promoted by connecting our young entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Dr Jitendra Singh pointed out that as a result of consistent boost to research and innovation, India has reached 3rd position in scientific publication as per NSF database. The country has featured within the top 50 innovative economies globally (at 46th rank), as per Global Innovation Index (GII) and it has also reached 3rd Position in term of no of PhDs, in size of Higher Education System; as well as in terms of No of Start-ups, the Minister added.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed the fellow Ministers that India in recent past has launched several flagship initiatives such National Mission on Cyber Physical Systems; Quantum Computing; National Mission on Supercomputing, Deep Ocean Mission etc to build scientific leadership in the emerging areas of science. He added that a national programme titled NIDHI (National Initiative for Developing & Harnessing Innovations) which addresses the entire value chain of Innovations has been launched. Moreover, to attract and encourage young women in STEM and to address gender imbalance in science, several women centric schemes have been initiated by the government.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that in the last seven years, Government expenditure of R&D has almost doubled and in the current budget, we have allocated about Rupees 14,800 Crore for Ministry of Science and Technology and a budget of ₹50,000 crore has been allocated over five years for the creation of a National Research Foundation (NRF).
Dr Jitendra Singh India remains committed to environmental and climate causes and pointed out that we have launched National Hydrogen Energy Mission and several such initiatives to fulfil India’s commitment at COP 26 of achieving net zero emissions by 2070 and meet 50 per cent of energy requirements from renewable energy by 2030. He said, the landscape of research and innovation continues to shift, as contributions in the global scientific output from this region is growing gradually. He also took note that SCO countries’ ranking in Innovation ladder is improving.
Indian Minister for Science and Technology assured that in times to come, SCO shall hold global importance for being the most populated marketplace, driven by the knowledge economy. SCO countries can collaborate to develop joint S&T solutions suited to local economies.
It is pertinent to mention that the SCO has emerged as a key regional organization in the Eurasian space in the past two decades of its existence, and India attaches special importance to SCO in promoting multilateral cooperation in the region. Shanghai Cooperation Organisation consists of approximately 42% of the world’s population, 22% of its land area, and contributes 20% to the global GDP.