India's scientific upsurge gives cutting edge to its soft diplomacy: VP Jagdeep Dhankar

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Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 6 (PTI) Vice President Jagdeep Dhankar on Saturday said that India's scientific upsurge is not only globally acclaimed, it also gives a "cutting edge" to the country's "soft diplomacy" and rise in foreign affairs.

Dhankar, who is in Kerala for a two-day visit, was speaking at the 12th convocation of the Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) here.

Addressing a large gathering of graduates in various fields, their parents and faculty members of IIST, the Vice President (VP) said that India has made significant strides in the realm of space, science and technology and has "carved a very special niche" for itself in the global arena.

Dhankar said that India has traversed significantly in the last decade and during that period, there were global challenges and a pandemic.

Despite the challenges, "Bharat has been a shining star" and it was globally recognised as a "favourite place for opportunity and destination".

"At the global level, India is a country of hope and possibility and the world recognises it." He said that the recognition has come from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the like, and it creates an ecosystem for the coming generations.

"Through this ecosystem, you can fully exploit your talent and you can realise your aspirations and dreams. Opportunities are many," the VP told the students at the event.

Dhankar recalled that in 1989 when he was an MP, the "the mood was grim, the economic situation was painful, foreign exchange was dwindling, and gold had to be placed in physical form in Swiss banks".

"The size of the Indian economy was smaller than the city of London and Paris. Our Foreign Exchange was between 1 billion and two billion dollars and now we are 660 billion dollars.

"We have traversed a journey from fragile five to the big five global economy and are on the way to becoming the third largest global economy," he added.

The country today has a "corruption free enabling ecosystem" as well as supportive policies that foster the growth of a vibrant space ecosystem, encourage public-private partnerships and propel India even further in the space race.

The VP said that this was on account of "visionary leadership".

"A leadership that firmly gave policy to this country. When you have a political journey of that kind and a nation that comprises 1.4 billion there are bound to be air pockets. But such air pockets can never be deterrents.

"I have no doubt the governance of this country during the next five years will put us on a trajectory where we will have to look behind to see who is behind us," he said.

Dhankar mentioned that the present century "belongs to Bharat" because the country was rising like never before and "the rise is unstoppable and incremental".

"Personally for me I think Bharat will be viksit Bharat ahead of 2047. I have no doubt about it," he added.

Dhankar pointed out that the nation's position and geo-political strength will no longer be determined by physical prowess alone, but also by the intellectual and technological innovations emerging from our laboratories.

"ISRO is a part of it. Disruptive technologies -- artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), machine learning -- are a part of it. How we unleash their prowess will define how we will remain ahead as a nation." Referring to the space industry, he said it was undergoing a "thrilling metamorphosis" and new paradigms, like reusable launch vehicles, were taking flight.

"These vistas like space are never ending. You can exploit your talent to realise what is beyond contemplation of the people of my age. You can bring it to ground reality," he said.

The VP further said that the coming decades will witness an unprecedented surge in space exploration and India, with its robust space programme and a growing pool of skilled professionals, was well-positioned to be a key player in this journey.

Dhankar, in his speech, also highlighted India's noteworthy accomplishments like the successful launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan), the country's first solar mission Aditya-L1, the upcoming ambitious human spaceflight mission Gaganyaan and the Chandrayaan missions and said these underscore the nation's technical prowess and determination to explore the uncharted territories of space.

"My heart fails when sometimes knowledgeable people for partisan purposes run down our growth which is being clapped and applauded by everyone on the planet.

"I appeal to those people, play your politics, have your partisan specs, look through the prism in a partisan manner, but not when it comes to the interest of Bharat, when it comes to the growth history of this country and when it comes to the reputation of this country," the VP said. PTI HMP HMP ROH