He also called for making the vaccination drive a ‘Jan Aandolan’ (mass movement).
“Until this morning, nearly 4.5 crore COVID-19 vaccine doses have been given to the people in this country. More than six crore doses have been sent to 76 nations,” Vardhan said during a media interaction at the Institute of Microbial Technology (CSIR-IMTECH) here.
“Our Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party (BJP) president J P Nadda have called for making the vaccination drive a ‘jan andolan’ (mass movement),” he said.
In a major boost to entrepreneurship in life sciences, Vardhan, the Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, inaugurated IMTECH Bio-Innovation Centre which is an extension of the Atal Incubation Centre (AIC)-CCMB, Hyderabad.
The aim of the IMTECH Bio-Innovation Centre is to become a hub for life sciences, biotechnology start-ups and MSMEs from all over the country in a short span of time.
Sanjeev Khosla, director, IMTECH apprised the minister about the various activities of the institute and especially the work done by scientists during the COVID-19 pandemic in the last one year.
“Science has the potential to solve many of our longstanding issues, they may belong to any sector. When I see the science happening in all the labs of CSIR and other places, I feel convinced that it (science) has the potential.
“That is why, we have been telling our scientists that we have to have a very people-centric approach and whatever we do in the labs, it should have a connect with the people for the future,” Vardhan said.
The minister also urged the scientific community to use their experience around coronavirus to be ready for any unforeseen thing like (the disease) which the future may throw up.
“I have told the scientific community that they developed a lot of experience during COVID pandemic. They rose to the occasion and helped us in a big way. They should be ready for any unforeseen thing like this (coronavirus) which the future may throw up,” he said.
Vardhan said the Bio Innovation Centre will help the start-ups as well as MSMEs.
“The Narendra Modi government stands rock solid behind anyone who has got a bright idea and wants to convert that idea into an entrepreneurship, discover or develop something new, which can help solve some of the long-standing unresolved problems of the countrymen and maybe alleviate their sufferings and make their lives better. That is the idea of this ‘Start-up and Stand up’ movement,” he said.
He said a special fund worth almost over ₹900 crore was established to help the industry expedite research for COVID-19 vaccine.
Vardhan also inaugurated Centre of Excellence for Intelligent Sensors and System at the Central Scientific Instruments Organisation here, which is a laboratory of CSIR, as well as a vaccination help desk at Dadu Majra colony here, an event organised by the city unit of the BJP.
At the CSIO here, he also interacted with young scientists who received national awards and fellowships in the past two years.
CSIO is committed to developing indigenous technologies according to the needs of the nation with minimum dependence on imports to provide impetus towards achieving the goal of self-reliant India, Vardhan said.
While referring to the Centre of Excellence for Intelligent Sensors and System, the Union minister said such initiatives will kick-start a lot of synergies to proven strengths in many areas, which are at the heart of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ dream.
Vardhan lauded the efforts of the institute to give a thrust to the activities related to artificial intelligence-based sensing applications, particularly for defence applications.
The institute houses state-of-the-art testing facilities for acoustic, seismic, infrared imaging modalities and other sensors and networks with strong computational facilities to provide artificial intelligence.
He said CSIR-CSIO has a head-start by already having delivered in the complex, multi-disciplinary areas of earthquake monitoring systems which has helped in real-time disaster management for metro rail systems and avionic display systems for the needs of Indian defence.
Later in the evening, Vardhan also inaugurated the ‘Advanced High-Resolution Microscopy Facility’ at the National Agri-food Biotechnology Institute (NABI) campus, Mohali, Punjab.
On the occasion, he said research should not be confined to the laboratories and a new, proactive and innovative approach is needed to bring it to the masses.