By: Seshadri Ramkumar, Professor, Texas Tech University, USA

Innovation and effective use of science and technology are much needed for growth, said The Honorable Vice President of India.

Yesterday in an event in Chennai, India, themed, “Listening, Learning and Leading,” Honorable Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India stressed the importance of lifelong learning for personal and professional growth. Science and technology, education, youth development, culture are valuable for national growth, stated Mr. Naidu.

I was honored to have been invited to this function which was fashioned in such a way that leading personalities in all walks of life such as space science, agriculture, cinema, academics that included students and politics attended.

Need for sustainable agriculture, utilization of technology to deliver important goods to the public, have become very important in the current liberalized, privatized and global economy (LPG) stated the Vice President. It was pleasing to note that the focus was on the need to interact with students and scientists. In his two years in office, the Vice President has delivered 61 convocation addresses, stressing the importance of education. Mr. Naidu termed such interactions as “Knowledge Pilgrimage.”

Government schemes such as the direct assistance to farmers need to reach the masses swiftly which can be delivered effectively through technology. Professor M. S. Swaminathan, the noted agricultural scientist made a clarion call to enhance farm productivity and the quality of farm products. This factor needs to be considered by the Indian cotton sector, as the yield is less than the global average yield. Cotton yield/acre in China and Australia and three times that of India—a fact, worth noting.

The Honorable Amit Shah, Home Minister of India, who released the book on “Listening, Learning and Leading,” emphasized the importance of listening and learning, which are needed for leaders.

In my opinion, these traits are much needed for scientists these days as conducting research in isolation and satisfying just intellectual curiosities are not sufficient. Translation of ideas from lab to supermarket aisles are needed for economic growth.

“Make-in-India“ initiative promoted by the current Modi government has given a greater push for many industries to focus on research to develop value-added products. Chennai-based Carborundum Universal Ltd., Aruppukottai-based Jayalakshmi Textiles, Bengaluru-based Resil Chemicals and Coimbatore-based Kanaka Lakshmi Textiles, are a few companies that I have interacted during my current travels in India, that are going on a high gear to transfer their R & D efforts into market place.

Additionally, Indian government is promoting the start-up culture as a way of employment generation. Chennai-based WellGro United is a good showcase which has taken an Indian made product to a global scale by having marketing collaboration with Lubbock, USA-based E Innovate, LLC in releasing “Towelie,” an oil absorbent nonwoven mat.

Industry-Institute Interaction (3Is) needs to be a priority, which is well practiced by institutes such as Ichalkaranji-based DKTE Society’s Textile & Engineering Institute, which I visited amidst heavy monsoon outpours and floods, last week.

Professor Sridhar Narayanan of Chennai-based Great Lakes Institute of Management, who attended the event stated that technology is much needed for national growth and more importantly it should help the people in the lowest rung of the society.

This scribe has been undertaking “mission-linked” applied research for 20-years at Lubbock, USA-based Texas Tech University that has resulted in the translation of laboratory research to market place such as “Fibertect,” military wipes and “Towelie,” oil absorbent.