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Twelfth Raja Ramanna memorial Lecture held at NIAS

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Reshma Ravi

BENGALURU: “In Alice in wonderland, there is a line that says ‘I have to run that much faster just to stay where I am’ and this is the position in India where things move very slowly,” said Prof. G Padmanaban, while speaking on the topic ‘Science, Technology and Health’ at  the ‘ Twelfth Dr. Raja Ramanna Memorial Lecture’ held at National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore on November 14, 2016.

Raja Rammana was a renowned physicist, nuclear scientist and held the position of ‘Union minister of State for Defence’ in Late V.P Singh’s cabinet. He was the Founder Director of NIAS.

Professor G Padmanaban spoke about the innovation and disruptions in India regarding vaccines, drug discovery, natural products, diagnostics and medical instrumentation, health at your door step, Artificial intelligence, synthetic biology etc.

‘‘Our biggest challenge is not about developing science based technologies, but it’s about making it affordable,’ said G Padmanban.

There is a new revolution of startups in India and Bangalore figures in the global ranking. These start-upswill help in innovation and these young minds will bring about change in society.

When questioned by Dr.K T Varughese of Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) as to why many Indians have not received Nobel Prizes in the field of science irrespective of their significant contributions, the professor said, ‘‘Nobel prize should not be used as a criterion for judgment for a person’s achievements. Many people have contributed to science and discovered many things but they have not won Nobel Prizes but this does not mean that their contribution is not important.” J.C Bose and his work was an example he cited to strengthen his point.

Prof. Padmanban also pointed out that the contributions to the technological innovations in the field of Life Sciences come predominantly from engineers, physicists and experts in other non biological fields.

He also said that the lack of involvement of clinicians to assess the on field applicability of the already invented and in-development technologies affects the pace at which the practicality of the technology can be gauged.

While other countries are working on policies to regulate highly advanced experimentation in the fields of genetic engineering and synthetic biology and security safeguards for them, India has still not been able to decide on policies related to elementary subjects like drug trials and has a very long way to go, opined the professor.

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