Scientific community has risen to every challenge and converted it into opportunity: Harsh Vardhan

Mr. Vardhan was addressing the 79th CSIR Foundation Day

The scientific community has risen to every challenge facing the country and converted it into an opportunity, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday.

Addressing the 79th CSIR Foundation Day, Mr. Vardhan said that during the coronavirus pandemic, scientists of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) contributed towards making ventilators and personal protection (Personal Protection Equipment) kits to genome sequencing.

The CSIR also initiated projects like repurposing of drugs for COVID-19.

He also asked the CSIR to organise a brainstorming session of young scientists to assess how the country can achieve ‘Aatmanirbharta’ (self-reliance).

“Whenever there has been a challenge of any form before the country, we have always been able to convert it into an opportunity and they (scientists) ultimately deliver good for the society and help in alleviating hardships in many ways,” Mr. Vardhan said.

“Whenever any responsibility is given to CSIR, they go ahead in a very dynamic way,” he said, citing an instance where he had proposed use of green crackers on Diwali as an alternative to traditional firecrackers to address the problem of pollution.

On the ongoing pandemic, Mr. Vardhan, who is also the Health Minister, said the fight against coronavirus started on January 8, in a day or two of the news about the cases in China being delivered by the World Health Organisation .

Since then, apart from the Health Ministry, the scientific community of India has been serving the cause of mitigation of COVID-19 in the best possible manner.

He said until Friday, India conducted 15 lakh tests in a day, stressing that when the pandemic began, only a few thousand tests were being conducted.

“We rose to the occasion in every responsible and committed manner. Nobody thought about the mandate every laboratory got whether working in the field of genomics or aeronautical, chemicals or biology. Everybody was trying to contribute something or the other,” Mr. Vardhan noted.

The CSIR has nearly 39 laboratories institutes working on very niche subjects ranging from genomics to aeronautics, from leather to metallurgy.

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