The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind, graced and addressed the 7th convocation of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Mohali today in Mohali, Punjab.Speaking on the occasion, the President said that though a young institution, IISER is an extremely important centre of higher education and research in our country. This Institute has quickly become one of northern India’s foremost destinations for students and faculty interested in the pursuit of scientific advance. It is well on its way to fulfilling its mandate of promoting and providing facilities for basic science research and integrating these with the needs of India and of our wider society.The President said that today Mohali is a hub for the knowledge economy, for Information Technology, biotechnology and bioinformatics and related fields. It is critical therefore that we see IISER as not just a standalone institution but as the fulcrum of an entire ecosystem. That is how this institution must grow and develop.The President said that the purpose of scientific research is three-fold. First, science and technology must continue to play a role in nation building. As our nation evolves and as our society changes, our needs too are transformed. Yet, science and technology will always be required to find answers to developmental questions. Today, the questions before us range from battling climate change to provide low-cost but effective healthcare solutions. And from helping our farmers overcome productivity and water-scarcity challenges to building sustainable cities and houses that are socially inclusive and provide a life of dignity to the last family in the last mohalla.
The IISER network must immerse itself in these tasks.Second, the President said, science and technology have a symbiotic relationship with business and industry. Product invention and process innovation; converting the learning of the lab into commercially viable products; using technology to promote efficiency, enterprise and employment – there is so much science and commerce can do together. The combination of research institutions, technology start-ups incubated in campuses, and a knowledge-based business culture can be transformational. Silicon Valley in California and Bengaluru in India are examples of this. IISER must strive to play a similar role in Mohali and neighbouring cities.Third, the President said, institutions of scientific education and research are important in themselves for blue-sky innovation and for expanding the frontiers of knowledge. This is the fundamental and most critical value of scientific research. It is to keep alive the instinct of curiosity that is at the root of our civilisation. As the history of science tells us, this route requires patience. But it can lead to unexpected and dramatic leaps in human imagination.The President urged students of IISER to keep these three motivations in mind as they climb higher. He said that in their own way, these three motivations of science and research will help them to serve our fellow citizens, to serve our society and country, and to serve the larger cause of humanity.