Chandigarh: New frontiers of science will have to be conquered to overcome challenges posed to humans in the 21st century and nations will have to collaborate to achieve the goal, Union HRD Minister Kapil Sibal today said.
"The solutions of the past cannot resolve the challenges of the present...If we have to succeed and conquer these challenges, we will need to break new barriers of science,"
He was addressing a meet on Building Communities, Bridging Continents here.
Sibal said the challenges of the present century were very complex and related to the basic needs of individuals such as eradication of hunger, right to food, water, education, employment and global warming.
Giving the example of how water shortage was going to increase in future, he said the existing population of the global community at 6.2 billion consumes 19 billion tonnes
of water annually, more than what the planet generates.
"By 2050 when the population is set to touch 8.9-9.2 billion, we will be in the midst of a crisis," he said.
"We are short of food, water and energy and the way we are plundering earth, we will disturb the delicate balance of nature," Sibal said.
Stating that water-intensive agricultural activities are unsustainable, the HRD minister said there is need for new technology to encourage farming with the use of less water.
"We have to realise that we cannot afford to continue producing agricultural ommodities the way we have been doing over the years," he said, giving the example of how rice and wheat crops guzzle a lot of water.
"What then is the solution? Obviously, we have to cross and conquer new frontiers of science," he said, adding that we will need to produce seeds that will consume less water and have new technology to increase productivity.
Sibal also gave the example of how humans had, over the last 300 years, consumed a limited resource like coal which takes millions of years to form.
"Now nature will not accept such things...the root cause and genesis of global warming is the result of this delicate balance getting disturbed," he said.
The Minister stressed that the global community will have to collaborate to meet the challenge of depleting natural resources which are very essential for the survival of
inhabitants of the earth.
"In the 21st century, no one country has the solution. There has to be collaboration and dialogue among communities across continents because the challenges facing us are not limited to one part of the world," he said.
Sibal said the challenges facing us are multi-dimensional and global warming will result in new kind of diseases. "Nobody can regulate the import or export of virus, therefore, these are going to be the new challenges facing us...viruses are going to be the new terrorists of tomorrow and they will attack you without notice," he said.
Talking about the scenario of education in the country, the HRD minister said it was a matter of concern that out of 220 million children who go to school in India, only 40
million reach college and the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) stood at just 12.4 per cent.
"It is the intellectual property of any nation which is its real wealth and not any physical assets. Any innovation that takes place in the world is led by the United States because their university system is so strong. We must reduce dropouts and ensure that the girl child gets educated," Sibal said.
He said the Union Government was committed to ensure that GER rises to 30 per cent by 2030 and was also trying to bring changes in the education system.
Sibal also said the Centre is going to set up a National Vocational Education Framework soon to secure the future of school students who fail to get higher education.
"Such a system is already in place in countries like the UK and Australia. (Under the new system) the employer will know whether the student has academic or a vocational degree.CBSE will give education or vocation degree," he said.
"In India, we have jobs, but lack skilled people, like paramedics, there are no quality lab assistants, no good chefs, drivers, hospitality managers, automobile engineers,
carpenters, artisans, because there is absence of vocation," he added.
When reporters fielded questions on the 2G spectrum scam issue to Sibal, who also holds the Telecom portfolio, and asked him to comment on the possibility of the CBI questioning former Union Minister Arun Shourie, he said, "I am not the
"You are putting questions to the wrong person. Ask the CBI," he said.
Asked if there were any chances of former Telecom Minister A Raja being arrested, he said, "You (media) must be having more knowledge..I have no idea".
Asked if the companies which hold additional spectrum will be charged, he said, "You wait and see what we are going to do. The media is not the best way of taking decisions. We take our decisions and then let the people know through the media."