“An increase in India’s investment in quality education is an absolute necessity,” Bharat Ratna recipient and scientist Professor C N R Rao said at the 17th J R D Tata Memorial Lecture here on Tuesday. Organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM), Prof Rao was the chief guest and delivered this year’s lecture, the seventeenth in the series.
Speaking about science and its condition in India, Prof Rao deplored the quality of education most students are used to nowadays. “Most of the science kids are taught today is boring and pointless. Who wants to learn that?” he declared to the audience, inducing a collective laugh.
“Nothing of what is taught is done in the best laboratories of the world. If we are to better the condition of science in our country, we must start by increasing the quality of teachers and teaching in India. Accepting mediocrity as a way of life needs to be done away with.”
Prof Rao has served as the head of the Scientific Advisory Council to PM Manmohan Singh for his two terms. He said that although Dr. Manmohan Singh was always receptive to his ideas, the overall implementation of ideas by his government was only about fifty per cent.
Placing emphasis on the paltry amount that most governments end up allocating to their education budget, he said – “Allocating 1 per cent of the overall GDP to the education sector is highly insignificant when you look at how other countries spend. South Korea got independence around the same time as us but they spend close to 7% of their GDP on education. Look at where they are now. They have surpassed us.”
He also stressed that industries can play a pivotal part in contributing to science by allocating a greater share of the available budget to their R & D facilities.