Thiruvananthapuram: Noting that there was no barrier that "we cannot overcome", Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday said India could compete with the best in the world given the country harness all the talent that exists.
"I have always believed that if we put our mind to it, we can work together as a nation and compete with the best in the world," he said after presenting the Panambilli Govinda Menon award to former ISRO chairman G Madhavan Nair.
Govinda Menon was a multi-faceted Congressman, a freedom fighter, lawyer, administrator, a respected politician and a connoissuer of arts, Singh said.
The achievements of Nair and his ISRO team were ample proof of the country's talent, he said, adding: "If we can harness all the talent that exists in the country, there is no problem that we cannot tackle and no barrier that we cannot overcome."
The award has been instituted by Samskara Sahithi, the cultural wing of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC).
Singh said he sensed a pride that the KPCC had spared time from the "heat and dust of political life to cultivate and patronise the arts and talent".
Kerala has always been known for its secular and egalitarian society and its tradition of different castes, creeds and religions living and prospering in harmony. "Some of the finest cultural contributions of our country have originated in Kerala," the Prime Minister said.
Singh said the country cherished and honoured the enormous cultural contributions of geniuses like painter Raja Ravi Varma besides writers Thakhazhi Sivasankara Pillai and Vaikom Mohammed Basheer.
Singh said the entire nation was proud of the achievements of the country's scientists. It was because of their dedicated and sincere efforts of patriotism and public service that India's space programme now ranked among the most advanced in the world, he said.
"Our products and services, including commercial satellite launches, have found a ready market in developed countries such as Italy, Korea and Germany. In honouring Nair, we pay tribute to the work of all the engineers and scientists who have been a part of this national endeavour," he said.
Singh said Kerala could pride itself on "creating the rich intellectual soil" in which the country's space programme was nourished.
"The Chandrayan Moon Mission was a great achievement. Even though the moon mission could not be completed, we gained a lot of experience and the mission collected very valuable scientific data," he said.
"We have entered the historic 125th year of our beloved party, the Indian National Congress. It will be a fitting tribute if we rededicate ourselves to work together to earn the respect, goodwill, and support of the people of Kerala."
The Prime Minister thanked the Congress leaders and workers of Kerala for strengthening the party base and its image in the state.
'Convert brain drain into brain gain'
Unveiling his vision for making India a 21st century knowledge power, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday called for "liberating" Indian science from red-tape and cronyism, and also to attract Indian origin researchers to work in the country to "convert brain drain into brain gain".
Addressing around 6,500 scientists from across the country and overseas, Manmohan Singh firmly put the upgradation of India's scientific and technological capabilities at the heart of the country's aspirations to "re-emerge as a knowledge power in the 21st century".
The Prime Minister, however, identified the dominance of red tape and favouritism as some of key areas holding back the Indian scientific community from realising its huge untapped potential.
"I invite you to explore all these issues and engage with us to liberate Indian science from the shackles of deadweight of bureaucratism and in-house favouritism," Manmohan Singh said after inaugurating the 97th Indian Science Congress (ISC 2010) here.
"It is unfortunately true that red tape, political interference and lack of proper recognition of good work have all contributed to a regression in Indian science in some sectors from the days of (Nobel laureate) CV Raman and other great pioneers of Indian science," Manmohan Singh said.
In this context, Manmohan Singh also recalled the names of other pioneering scientists like Meghnad Saha, JC Bose, Homi Bhaba, Vikram Sarabhai and Satish Dhawan.
To encourage the culture of innovation, the Prime Minister made a compelling case for a radical change of mindset of all the stakeholders in the community of scientists, researchers and university administration.
Linking the burning issue of climate change with the promotion of energy-efficient technologies, Manmohan Singh noted "limited progress" made at the UN summit on climate change in Copenhagen last month and exhorted Indian scientists to take the lead in developing frontline technologies relating to climate mitigation and adaptation.
"The market for such technologies is not just India. It is indeed the whole world," he said.
To reverse the trend and improve standards, the Prime Minister also urged the scientific institutions to propose mechanisms for greater autonomy, including autonomy from the government.
To convert 'brain drain' of the past into a 'brain gain', the PM called for special efforts to encourage scientists of Indian origin working abroad to return to the homeland and work at universities and scientific institutions in the country, at least for a short period.
"This will require special incentives. We need to think creatively on how this can be done so that high quality minds are attracted to teaching and research," Singh said at the five-day premier science event.
PTI (With IANS inputs)
First Published: Sunday, January 03, 2010, 23:32