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BRICS countries should unite to innovate affordable science solutions: Jitendra Singh

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NEW DELHI : Union Minister of State for Science and Technology Jitendra Singh on Tuesday called for a common fight against common challenges.

Addressing the 10th meeting of BRICS science and technology ministers in virtual mode, the minister said that Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) are facing to many similar challenges, such as ensuring food, affordable healthcare and energy access for their people and addressing environmental issues like climate change and biodiversity loss.

Singh said that to solve these challenges, it is imperative that countries come together to innovate affordable science-based solutions. “There are several areas in which the lives of our people directly benefit from our mutual cooperation, such as the establishment of a vaccine R&D center, the BRICS network university, the establishment of a constellation of shred satellites and the mutual recognition of pharmaceutical products.”

He added that the BRICS Young Scientists Conclave, BRICS Youth Summits, BRICS Sports and increased exchanges between scientific organizations, researchers and civil society have also boosted people-to-people contacts.

“BRICS countries need to deepen their cooperation in areas such as health, agriculture, water, renewable energy, biotechnology, electric mobility, ICT, AI, robotics and the environment. The network of BRICS countries can collaborate to develop joint science and technology (S&T) solutions, marketed to suit their local economies,” the minister said.

Singh said India would support BRICS efforts in developing innovative and inclusive solutions, including digital and technological tools to promote sustainable development and facilitate affordable and equitable access to global public goods for all. “In times to come, the BRICS will have global significance for being the most populous market, driven by the knowledge economy and underscored that they can collaborate to develop joint S&T solutions tailored to local economies.”

He said that over the past eight years, Indian government R&D spending had almost doubled. For the 2022 budget, Rs 14,800 has been allocated to the Ministry of Science and Technology. A budget of 5,000 crore has been allocated for the establishment of a National Research Foundation (NRF). “Thanks to the increase in investment, India has reached the 3rd position in scientific publication according to the NSF database. The country is among the top 50 innovative economies in the world, according to the Global Innovation Index ( GII).

Singh added that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to disrupt our world and India, being the fastest growing economy with the second largest population in the world, has a significant stake in the AI revolution. “Aware of this, we have established 25 Technology Innovation Hubs (TIH) in the country. International collaboration is integrated into it and we welcome researchers from foreign countries for collaborative research and sharing of know-how.”

During the closing session, the Minister said that promoting BRICS innovation enterprises, developing next-generation BRICS scientific leadership and resource sharing should be our guiding strategy for the BRICS STI partnership.

“The adopted BRICS Innovation Action Plan 2022-23 would contribute to the sharing of best practices and networking between the BRICS Innovation ecosystem and innovation players. India looks forward to deepening BRICS collaboration in the field of science, technology and innovation,” he said.

Wang Zhigang, Minister, Ministry of Science and Technology, China, Bonginkosi Emmanuel Nzimande, Minister, Department of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, South Africa, Paulo Alvim, Minister, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Brazil, Valery Falkov, Minister, Ministry of Science and Higher Education of Russia, participated in the 10th BRICS STI Ministerial Meeting with senior officials and scientists.

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