Much of the Covid-19 focus in India, just like around the world, may appear to be centered around passive responses like the lockdown. But the science and technology fraternity too has responded well to the challenges. Chethan Kumar speaks to Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Department of Science and Technology, on the way Indian science has contributed. (Article from TOI)
Any pandemic looks to science for solutions, where do we stand in that regard?
Right now, because there’s no cure or vaccine yet globally, the focus is on testing, tagging, tracking, significantly cutting down the transmission, planning for the post-lockdown scenarios and managing the Covid-19 cases. In all of these, the role of science is paramount. Whether it is in the understanding of virus behavior, its impact on the human body, or its modes of transmission, it is science that has given us the answers, enabling us to formulate meaningful strategies. Now, the next steps are to connect strongly globally to search for vaccines and drugs. Work on all of these fronts has begun actively in India with several labs, academia, startups and companies working in tandem on hospital supplies, therapies, vaccines and inexpensive, rapid diagnostics for large scale testing.
Does Indian science have answers to challenges faced, and the ability to handle crises?
India has a very deep scientific knowledge base and infrastructure across the country in various institutions and R&D labs. We are number three in the world in a number of scientific and engineering publications, and also at number three in many cutting edge fields like nanosciences and materials science. We shouldn’t underestimate the brilliance of our scientific human resources, who are among the best in the world. Given a challenge, we can rise to meet it. Some areas do need improvement. While our quantity of research is adequate, the quality of research can further improve by shifting from incremental research to research that is profound, disruptive were needed, cutting edge and relevant.