Science Day in Switzerland
My visit to Switzerland in 2005 was a historic event. When I landed from St. Petersburg at Geneva local time 1430 hrs, a surprised was awaiting for me. The Vice President of Switzerland after receiving me whispered that, we have declared 26 May 2005 as Science Day in Switzerland to commemorate your visit. This was indeed unexpected and a beautiful gesture on the part of Swiss government. When I met the President of Switzerland I thanked him for this gesture. He said, “I had studied two of your books fully “Ignited minds” and “India 2020”. I brief by Cabinet about your two books and your accomplishment in space and defence science and the Cabinet took a decision to celebrate your visit to Switzerland as Science Day of Switzerland. In practical sense, I had the opportunity to be in the environment of scientific laboratories, researchers, students, faculty for the whole day on 26 May 2005. What a beautiful way to celebrate science? On 26 May morning, I visited EPF Lausanne and had discussion with the scientists in “Brain and Mind” laboratories and “Micro-Nanotechnologies laboratories”.
At ETH Zurich which was the place where Einstein had the early education when he came from Germany, I visited the Bose Einstein laboratory where six scientists were working on Bose Einstein condensate experiments. In both EPF and ETH laboratories I interacted with faculty and young researchers, and addressed the students. At EPF, I talked on the topic “Science is Borderless” and at ETH I talked on the topic “Technology and National Development”.
Both the places the auditoriums were full with students, faculty members, researchers and I was also honoured to see three noble laureates. They all gave me a standing ovation when I entered in the auditorium. When I concluded my talk with Sir CV Raman’s exhortation two students, I quote “We need a spirit of victory, a spirit that will carry us to our rightful place under the sun, a spirit which will recognize that we, as inheritors of a proud civilization, are entitled to a rightful place on this planet. If that indomitable spirit were to arise, nothing can hold us from achieving our rightful destiny.“
This led to standing ovation and number of hands rose up with questions. I answered ten questions on various scientific and technological topic. The most important question that I have answered was, how a nuclear and missile scientist has got transformed into a societal mission scientist in a country like India? Very tough question, I answered in the following way:
You know in my 50 years of my scientific career, 20 years I worked for Space technological for societal applications through space communication satellite, space remote sensing satellite and meteorological satellite. I worked for another 20 years in defence research, which led me to give to facilitate delivery of nuclear weapon system to the country. This has become a essential specially because India is surrounded by nuclear weapon states both from the east and west. “Strength respects strength”. Of course, the remaining 10 years, I realized that the large number of technologies which has been developed in the country during the previous four decades can be put to use or societal transformation. Keeping this in mind as the Chairman of Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC) with 20 expert members drawn from multiple institutions, we evolved a road map on how to transform India into an economically developed nation before the year 2020. At present, I am involved in this mission. I am sure, you will appreciate, how I became a scientist promoting peace.