Our Bureau “It is important for our youngsters to pursue fundamental research,” said Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys.

Delivering a lecture ‘Why does India need fundamental research?’ at the Infosys Science Prize announcement ceremony, Murthy said: “Why is it important for our youngsters to pursue fundamental research? Just look around this hall and you get the answer. The electric bulb, fan, air conditioner, projector, microphone and laptop came from fundamental research and were all invented outside India.”

“Every one of these came from fundamental research in science and its application by engineers. Our youth deserve to invent some important stuff valuable to India and the world so that they are recognised and respected. Else, what is our contribution to this world as a nation of 1.25 billion people?” he added.

Pointing to the country’s history of advances in science and mathematics, Murthy, who is also the Trustee of Infosys Science Foundation, said: “There were many Indian scientists and mathematicians in India from 100 AD to 1400 AD who did earth-shaking work; some of the deepest and most original thinkers — Aryabhata, Brahmagupta, Bhaskaracharya and Madhava — demonstrated the power of original thinking. The conclusion is that our youth is capable of original thinking if we create an environment that encourages such adventures of mind.”

Linking fundamental research and modern day problems and importance of youngsters taking up research, Murthy said: “There are even more important reasons why our youngsters have to be encouraged and equipped to become contributors to solving huge problems that confront us every day.”

“India probably has more problems facing its citizens than any other country in the world. Our huge population is a big bottleneck for providing our children with basic education, healthcare, nutrition and shelter,” he added.

‘Think independently’

What is the way forward? “I believe that we can find appropriate solutions to our problems if we educate our youth to think independently to use research and its applications to find scientific and technological solutions to our problems. That requires our country to provide full freedom of inquiry and imagination to our youngsters that enter portals of our higher educational and research institutions.

“These youngsters come in as intelligent, curious, enthusiastic and energetic young men and young women, and they have to be nurtured to leave as confident, knowledgeable, daring, open-minded and independent thinkers that will go after solutions to the problems of our country.”

Murthy said: “Can we hope that an Indian youngster, educated and working in an Indian scientific research institution, will make a mind-boggling discovery like the quantum theorists, that the act of observing a system will influence what is being observed and that the inherent nature of reality is fuzzy?

“Will one of our youngsters contribute to science like a little-known Irish theorist John Bell and a graduate student like John Clauser whose design of an experiment proved that Neils Bohr and the mathematics of quantum mechanics were right, and that Albert Einstein was wrong? Can we produce right here in India scientists like CV Raman, Ashok Sen and Sathyendranath Bose? Can our youngsters, educated entirely in India and doing research in India emulate S Chandrasekhar, Hargobind Khurana, Venky Ramakrishnan, Amartya Sen, Abhijit Banerjee, Akshay Venkatesh and Manjul Bhargava?