I have a dream. A dream to build IISER Mohali as a premier academic institute striving to attain excellence in science. This is possible only if you all share the same dream. This Institute is not yet another institute set up by the Government of India. It is special. Special for all of us. Special for the entire Nation.
Independent India wanted to catch up with the rest of the world. It had suffered immensely during the colonial period. During the Golden Era of Physics, India contributed its share. It had C V Raman, S N Bose and M N Saha. Even before that, J C Bose had made outstanding discoveries. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru realised that the salvation for the newly born Nation would come only through the development of Science in the country. He set up CSIR laboratories. H J Bhabha helped him set up the Atomic Energy establishment. Later, Vikram Sarabhai helped India advance in space technology. A ship-to-mouth India learnt to feed its millions, thanks to the green revolution. Soon followed white revolution and yellow revolution. India showed it could, if it wanted to.
Nehru saw to it that the IITs were set up. Today IIT is a brand name. Every other student in India wants to be an IIT’ian. But people do not realize that the success of the IITs came through a study of science. The IITs contributed their bit for science education and science development in the country. Unfortunately, Indian universities fell behind, way behind. The Nation could not wait for the universities to turn around. Therefore, the IISERs were created. They were created such that they would be at the forefront of science. The government decided to fund them as it had never done before.
Indian students are bright. They are hard working, if they want to. They became success stories in Silicon Valley and elsewhere. They have the potential as everybody acknowledges. Alas, they have been wasting their talents in trivial pursuits!
IISER students have to be different. They are bright. They are paid scholarships. The country expects a lot from them. Recently, a book on “Science in India” was presented to a German visitor. He said, “Oh, a book on science in India; a book on incredible science in India; actually a book on science in incredible India.” I could bury my head in shame. I told him, “I hope, one day, it will be on incredible science in India!”
The country needs to improve the academic environment and the infrastructure in the universities badly. It is a mammoth undertaking, but worth it.
My dear students, incredible science in India is possible only if each one of you realise your full potential and contribute to the science in India. You can do it. You just have to resolve to do it. To start with, you should attend all classes. Stop being doubting Thomases. Stop comparing yourself with the friends who got admission in an engineering college and imagining the job that they never got. You are the chosen few. Chosen to lead India in science. Remember the logo of IISER Mohali that says, “In pursuit of knowledge.” It is a pursuit that never ends. A pursuit that will make you discover things, discover for the sake of discovering. The fruits will follow. When you plant a tree and nurture it, fruits always follow.
I look forward to the day when each one of you will come and tell me the incredible science that you are doing.