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Posted: April 18, 2008
Stem cells, nanotechnology key to India's future, former president says
(Nanowerk News) India is looking to stem-cell and nanotechnology research, among other scientific endeavours, to help it achieve its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, according to the country's former president, Dr. Abdul Kalam.
Kalam, a scientist and teacher who was president of India between 2002 and 2007, told an audience at the University of Toronto on Friday that both areas, particularly nanotechnology, would help boost India's gross domestic product.
"From now on, nanotechnology will take a central place in the convergence of technologies," he said. "The potential uses are endless."
Nanotechnology, or engineering on an atomic level, could be particularly useful in purifying water, he said. About 50 per cent of his country's population still does not have access to clean drinking water.
Nanotech advances will only be possible, however, with continued funding from the government and through more partnerships between the private and public sectors, he said.
Kalam, who also served as the principal scientific adviser to the government of India before he was elected president, said that stem-cell research — a controversial topic in North America — was also one of the country's key areas of development. He acknowledged that while some types of stem-cell research are banned in North America, "there are many routes that can be taken."
He said India is on track to reach its goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, as per the roadmap he set out in his 1998 book Vision 2020, as long as it continues its strong economic growth. If India can keep posting a gross domestic product growth rate of 10 per cent every year for the next decade — and thus bring more of its population out of poverty — the goal will be reached, Kalam said.
Kalam is an aeronautical engineer by training and was the project director for India's first satellite launch in 1980. He was in Toronto to be the keynote speaker at the Canada India Foundation awards on Friday evening.
During his speech to a crowd of about 150, mostly students, Kalam encouraged the study of science because it broadens a person's perspectives.
"Being a scientist gives you better eyes," he said.