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New Delhi :  Presenting the 8th INSPIRE – MANAK Awards  at a virtual ceremony here on September 8, 2021,  Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh called for grooming innovation aptitude in school children.

Dr Singh, in his address on the occasion, said, “Innovation in S&T has a bright future and it will make India self-reliant. Innovative learning will also contribute to India’s $5 trillion economy goal and fulfil the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”.

Citing India’s proven prowess in launching as many as three vaccine besides developing the DNA based vaccine in a short time to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Jitendra Singh said that  in the 21stcentury, a nation’s economic power is determined by its scientific growth and related technological application. In the times to come, India will reap the demographic dividend by grooming these young innovative minds and pooling their resources together, he said, according to a PIB release.

The S&T Minister said the INSPIRE scheme is helping create a scientific temper as every year there is an increasing number of aspiring students competing for the awards. More than 3.92 lakh students across different States and UTs submitted their projects this year, of whom 581 were shortlisted and 60 awarded, said Dr Singh. More than 5 lakh schools have been reached out under the MANAK Awards since the scheme was launched. This proves that the phenomenon of grooming young Indian scientific minds is catching up, he added.

Dr Singh said the Union Ministry for Science & Technology will write to the State Governments/UT Administration to sensitise them about the awards and awardees in their respective state/UT. This will help inculcate a wholesome scientific and innovative aptitude and learning process from the initial stages of schooling, he said. He suggested focusing on three different age group brackets for creating a scientific temper in the country, viz Below 25 years age group, 25-to-35 years old, and Above 35 years of age, for building a scientific mindset in the country.

The virtual Awards Ceremony was also addressed by the Secretary, Department of S&T, Dr Renu Swaroop, and Chairperson, National Innovation Foundation (NIF), Dr P S Goel. Namita Gupta, Head – INSPIRE Programme, DST, Dr. Vipin Kumar, Director, NIF, and other senior officers also attended the programme.

The INSPIRE Awards – MANAK is a flagship programme of the Government of India and is jointly implemented by Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) – India. In the year 2016, the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) scheme was revamped and aligned with the action plan for “Start-up India” initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Through MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge), students are encouraged from all schools, government or private, throughout the country, to send original and creative technological ideas/ innovations focusing on common problems and come up with solutions on their own, be it household or for porters, labourers, society or the likes. The shortlisted projects are also displayed at the National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC).