Solar energy not grid power for farmers: C.N.R. Rao, Bharat Ratna

Alka Sirohi

Bharat Ratna Dr. C.N.R. Rao today suggested that instead of making farmers depend on grid power, government could give them solar panels and pump sets if need be free of cost and utilise better techniques of water usage at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi.

Dr. Rao termed energy and water as the two most important areas of action for the immediate future.  He disclosed that a report on these areas had already been submitted to the previous government. "While new energy sources like nuclear was important, the answer for our energy problem lay in the abundant Sun's energy," said Dr. Rao.

Delivering the ASSOCHAM annual 17th JRD Tata Memorial Lecture organised by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Dr. CNR Rao disclosed that hydrogen represented the best source for abundant energy as against other sources.  He explained the work his groups were doing in sourcing hydrogen from the technology the plants were employing photosynthesis. Hydrogen was a clean fuel and met the demand for a renewable energy source.

Dr. Rao also regretted the inadequate level of fundamental scientific output compared to what China and South Korea were doing. Quality science education was lacking and teachers were not able to inspire their students to take up  science and research as a life  dedication. China and South Korea were scaling up their science teaching and research investment hugely.  He recalled how South Korea's advance in the area was beginning to challenge Japan's success.  

While Indian science output was about 40,000 patents, China's was in terms of lakhs. Korea was spending as much as 3 per cent of its GDP on science and China 1.7 per cent while India was still around one percent.  He wanted investment in education a 6 per cent of GDP but that education should be quality education for which he called for retraining of teachers to enable them to create that passion for science among their students, said Dr. Rao.

Listing some of the reasons for India's lag in science, Dr. Rao who was for several years director of Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore, said scientific enquiry should be directed into new areas of science.

Quoting from his own experience he said after he and his students took up research in the characteristics of materials other than carbon of films that are only one atom thick, there was a burst of activity in this sphere that was being recognised abroad in several top research institutions and universities.  

He pointed out how instead of repeating work that was already going on abroad on graphene( one atom thick carbon material) the application of what was discovered in carbon to other materials became highly productive for Indian science.  Such intuition was more important than emphasis on equipment and institutions in our academia and students, he said.  

The eighty-year old scientist who still continues to teach and lead research groups in science surprised the elite audience of industrialists at the lecture with instances of how several new areas of research he had opened up in his institution even after he crossed the age of 70. "In fact, I have done more work after reaching 70 than I did before it even though my work then was huge.", he said.

Giving the mantra of life and success, Dr. Rao suggested pray for equanimity in Life. Rao said, if we as human being developed this equanimity, rest everything money, success and happiness will itself follow.

AuthorAlka Sirohi
Date06 August, 2014


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