Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs the right scientific advice to turn his vision to reality and should also start mission-mode projects, feels India's Bharat Ratna-winning scientist CNR Rao. In an interview, he speaks on PM Modi's science policy and on religion, intolerance and Mother Teresa's sainthood. Excerpts of the interview:
Q) Do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a good vision for science?
A) He is definitely a man with vision, there is no question that he wants to do something, we hope he will not only use good advice and all the wonderful ideas he has. He is obviously a doer when you listen to him; there is nothing wrong in what he says. What he says is perfect. Except that, we have to do many of those things.
Q) You have been the advisor to several Prime Ministers; the Scientific Advisory Council to the Prime Minister is currently defunct? Do you think Prime Minister Narendra Modi is getting the right scientific advice?
A) Well, I do hope our Prime Minister will find the right people for the right advice because no one person or no one ministry can handle the large problems of either science or society. Using science, we have to solve pressing problems of poverty while competing with rest of the world. One also has to do frontier blue-sky research. If all these things India has to do then PM Modi needs to know what the priorities are, how do we proceed what do we work on. I do hope he will get the right advice and get some kind of a group of people to advise him, I do hope and pray that he will do that.
Q) How can Prime Minister Narendra Modi help support more science?
A) PM Modi should help good institutions with minimum funds that will not denude them from the basic effort that is going on. Small amounts of funds Rs. 10-20 crores were cut off in the past. PM Modi should also fund simple small science in a big way like for diseases, for new energy technologies and new advanced materials.
Selective but major funding is required. In my own life most of the good funding I had was from somewhere else where, not from India. It is very unfair that India has not done that.
PM Modi should employ mission mode for some areas, long ago we had mission mode for technology solutions, like better quality seeds, safe drinking water, like mission for eradicating illiteracy, like getting rid of malaria. Mission mode projects are what PM Modi should start. India needs 5-6 major missions that will help the poor people of India and the society as a whole.