Noble laureate laments lack of political will
Holding political and legal interventations responsible for obstructing execution of major scinetific projects in India, Nobel laureate David Gross said that if there were no political interventions, several projects could have been initiated in the country that would have been useful for the welfare of humankind.
“The country is not moving as fast as it should have been on major scientific projects due to political and legal delays, said Gross, a physicist and 2004 Nobel laureate, while speaking at Nobel dialogue series at the Vibrant Gujarat summit in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.
The Nobel prize winner was referring to the stalled India Neutrino Observatory, a massive underground detector of subatomic particles, that was proposed to come up in Tamil Nadu.
As per the proposal, the detector is to come up in an ecologically-fragile zone and has invited opposition by activist groups despite scientists’ assurance that the detector was not a threat to the environment. The project is still biting the dust as it is yet to get state-level clearances.
“India has to go beyond being a minor collaborator in big science research projects and take the lead but there have been inexcusable political and legal delays,” said Gross, adding that China is making good on these available opportunities.
The Nobel laureate also referred to the government’s nod last year on having an India-based arm of an observatory to detect gravitational waves, called LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory). This was after signs of gravitational waves, resulting from the collision of two massive black holes 1.3 billion light-years from earth, were announced last year by a team of scientists across the world, including several from India.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is personally monitoring science projects, announced support for LIGO last February but there’s been little done on its execution such as decision on the location of the detector.
In reply to a question on whether pro-environment activists are posing a major hurdle, Gross said, “It’s the lack of strong political will that’s posing a major hurdle in execution of big science projects and not the lovers of environment.” On demonetisation, he said PM Modi has taken a bold step.