Indian media: Science yet to get its 'proper due'

The Indian premier wants more money for science Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Indian premier wants more money for science

Media are drawing attention to a speech by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in which he acknowledges that not enough money is being invested in scientific research and development.

Mr Singh called for science to be a "driving force propelling India as a resurgent civilisation", The New Indian Express reports.

Speaking at the annual session of the Indian Science Congress, Mr Singh said he was worried that "science has not yet got its proper due in our value system".

The Asian Age writes that he used the occasion to ask for more corporate investment in research and development, pointing out that in countries like South Korea, where a high percentage of the GDP goes to science, the "contribution of industry is significant."

"We must increase our annual expenditure on science and technology to at least 2% of GDP. This has to come from both government and industry," Mr Singh said.

The Hindustan Times notes that the prime minister had "made the right noises" and stressed on the need to develop affordable innovations in healthcare, sustainable agriculture and clean energy. "But where is the action plan?" asks the daily.

It recalls that "this is not the first time the PM has spoken about such things", and that "unfortunately, nothing much has moved on the ground".

The paper sees the main reason for this in "the State's lack of commitment towards basic science research".

"If a majority of Indians think of science only when the Indian Space Research Organisation launches a satellite or a rocket, it is because the government has failed to attract young minds to take up basic sciences as a career," The Hindustan Times argues.

Anti-corruption bill

Staying with national news, the Delhi cabinet has cleared the final draft of its own anti-corruption Lokpal (Ombudsman) Bill that promises to prosecute all public servants, with no "special privileges" extended even to the chief minister of the state, The Hindu reports.

The passage of the bill fulfils "a key election promise made to voters by the Aam Aadmi Party (APP), the paper recalls.

The Delhi Lokpal Bill now awaits endorsement from the state assembly that convenes on 13 February.

"People were waiting for a strong law that would punish the corrupt. Their long wait has ended. Today is a historic day for Delhi," Delhi Education Minister Manish Sisodia was quoted by Firstpost website as saying.

'Wooing voters"

Newspapers and websites are seeing a connection between the upcoming general elections and the government's move to cut CNG (compressed natural gas) prices by 30% and cooking gas prices by 20%.

The Indian Express reports that "in yet another decision seen as linked to the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) elections", the government slashed the price of fuel used for cooking and driving cars.

Echoing a similar sentiment, CNN-IBN website reports that the UPA (Congress-led United Progressive Alliance) government has "planned several populist measures in order to woo voters ahead of the elections."

In related news, the prospect of soaring prices is "looming large", as wholesalers across Delhi have gone on an indefinite strike, The Hindustan Times reports.

They are protesting against a Delhi government order that bans distributors from charging a 6% commission from farmers but asks wholesalers to pay the same amount.

Hindi daily Amar Ujala says that consumers in Delhi are concerned that the strike could lead to a vegetable price hike.

Italian marines

Meanwhile, the ongoing diplomatic tension between India and Italy over the issue of Italian marines, charged with the killing of two Kerala fishermen, "may affect India-EU trade ties", The Times of India reports.

The paper quotes Germany's ambassador to Delhi, Michael Steiner, as saying that India and the EU can "achieve better results in their relations if the Italian marines' issue was resolved smoothly". The statement comes ahead of the state visit of German President Joachim Gauck to India which starts on Tuesday.

The Times of India also draws attention to a recent tweet by EU industry commissioner Antonio Tijani that reads: "Can we keep negotiating FTA (free trade agreement) India when death penalty is considered against EU citizens fighting sea piracy? I think not."

Buffalo hunt

And finally, after a "bizarre search" the police in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh have "finally tracked down" minister Azam Khan's stolen buffaloes that went missing from his farmhouse last week, Firstpost website reports.

"Cops across the district spread out in a massive buffalo hunt, combed fields and took sniffer dogs along to track down the animals," says the NDTV website. Three policemen have also been transferred for "dereliction of duty", the report adds.

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