PM hails Indian scientists for developing vaccine against COVID-19

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New Delhi, Jun 4 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday lauded Indian scientists for developing a Made in India vaccine against COVID-19 and boosting other measures to fight the pandemic within a year of its outbreak.

Addressing a meeting of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Society via video conference, the prime minister, who is also the president of the scientific body, cited India's experience in the previous century to say that the country used to wait for years to lay its hands on innovations achieved abroad, but its scientists are now working shoulder to shoulder with their counterparts outside.

They are working at the same quick pace, he said. He said the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge of the century but history has witnessed that whenever humanity has faced any major issues, science has paved the way for a better path in the future. This work was done by scientists across the world and in India, the prime minister said.

'Our scientists, within a year, developed 'Made in India' vaccine and made it available to the countrymen,' he said.

India has indigenously developed Covaxin vaccine against coronavirus.

He said within a year, scientists made the country self-reliant by making COVID testing kits. In a short span, they discovered many drugs to treat coronavirus and developed ways to speed up oxygen production.

'Because of your contribution, immense talent, the country is fighting this big war (against coronavirus),' Modi said.

On the occasion, Modi reiterated his call for an Aatmanirbhar Bharat (Self-reliant) and a strong India, saying the COVID-19 crisis may have slowed its pace but the country's resolve remains the same.

Lauding the work done by the CSIR, he said the organisation has produced several talented scientists and it was led by ones like Shantiswarup Bhatnagar.

'I have always stressed that (if) any organisation which has such a great legacy then its responsibility also rises for the future. The country has a lot of expectations from scientists and technicians,' Modi said.

The CSIR, he said, has a powerful ecosystem of research and patents and its scientists work for many problems faced by the country.

'But the country's goals and dreams are based on the foundation of the 21st century. Which is why the goals of the CSIR are also extraordinary,' he said.

He urged the scientists to go ahead keeping in mind the 75 years of Independence, with clear goals and time bound framework, with a clear direction. This will help in changing the work culture, he said. 'Which is why our goals should be two steps ahead of the future. We have to work on the needs of this decade and future decades from now,' he stressed.

India wants to be self-reliant in a number of sectors, ranging from agriculture to astronomy, disaster management to defence technology, vaccine to virtual reality, and biotechnology to battery technology, he said.

He said India is now showing the way to the world in sustainable development and clean energy, and is playing an important role in progress in other countries with its software and satellite development.

Modi said with regards to disaster management, the world has a pandemic like coronavirus before it. But similar challenges will be in store in the future. For example, experts worldwide are predicting climate change, he said. 'Our scientists, our institutions should prepare ourselves for this future challenges with a scientific approach. From carbon capture to energy storage to green hydrogen technologies, we have to take a leap,' he said.

He praised the CSIR for its role in the Aroma Mission launched in 2016. He added that today thousands of farmers of the country are changing their fortunes through floriculture. He lauded the CSIR for helping in cultivation of asafoetida within the country for which India was dependent on imports.

He suggested that all the work done by the CSIR should be made easier for people to access. Any person can search about it and connect it, he said.

'You all must stress on it. This will also support your work and products and increase scientific approach in the society and industry,' Modi said. PTI KR PR AAR AAR