Exploring the deep sea to moving mountains — Modi lays out over 20 challenges for India’s young scientists to solve at ISC 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving the inaugural speed at India Science Congress (ISC) 2020YouTube live broadcast
  • India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, laid out over 20 challenges for young scientists in India to solve.
  • Modi highlighted pressing problems that are facing India today like water scarcity, pollution and degrading soil quality.
  • He believes solving these issues is the key to India’s economy hitting the $5 trillion mark.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi believes that technology is the key to unlock India’s development going forward. He laid out 20 new challenges to the country’s aspiring scientists at the inauguration of the Indian Science Congress (ISC) 2020 in Bengaluru.

"Water governance is a new frontier for you. Can we use water drainage from homes to irrigate our farms? It’s up to you to find an effective and cheap solution," said Modi as he laid out the first task.

Most of his challenges were about bringing rural India into the modern era — from strengthening the manufacturing power of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to the green sustainable development of villages.

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"Keep in mind, these contributions are what will help India become a $5 trillion economy," he proclaimed.

Here’s a full list of issues that Modi wants India’s young scientists to solve:
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"Our success in space exploration should now be mirrored in the new frontier of the deep sea. We need to explore and map responsibly harness the vast ocean resources of water, energy and food. This requires developing strengths in submersibles, deep-sea mining systems and autonomous underwater vehicles."

"Our success in space exploration should now be mirrored in the new frontier of the deep sea. We need to explore and map responsibly harness the vast ocean resources of water, energy and food. This requires developing strengths in submersibles, deep-sea mining systems and autonomous underwater vehicles."

Fore-reef slope habitat around Kandahalagala showing the extent of coral bleaching and massive coral die-off (Source: University of Exeter)


"We need to prepare seeds which are abundant but don’t use a lot of water."

"We need to prepare seeds which are abundant but don’t use a lot of water."

Rice plants grow from the cracked and dry earth in outskirts of Nagpur City in India. Rice plants normally need to be partially submerged in water during the farming. (Source: BCCL)

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"We know from science that potential energy — the silent form of energy — can move mountains when converted into the kinetic energy of motion. Can we build science in motion?"

"We know from science that potential energy — the silent form of energy — can move mountains when converted into the kinetic energy of motion. Can we build science in motion?"

Mount Everest (Source: Unsplash)


"India is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic to save our birds, fish and soil. But you will have to find a cheap and sustainable alternative to plastic in order to make this possible."

"India is on a mission to eliminate single-use plastic to save our birds, fish and soil. But you will have to find a cheap and sustainable alternative to plastic in order to make this possible."

A child plays amid mounds of plastic at a scrap workshop in Chembur in India (Source: BCCL)

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"A new beginning is needed in the way we think about how to use the soil database to make day-to-day farming operations more effective."

"A new beginning is needed in the way we think about how to use the soil database to make day-to-day farming operations more effective."

Brisk farming activity in villages around Vadipatti as water is released in Periyar channel (Source: BCCL)

"It is imperative to find a solution to save our farmers from the losses they face due to the inefficiencies of the supply chain."

"It is imperative to find a solution to save our farmers from the losses they face due to the inefficiencies of the supply chain."

Wheat and rice being transported in trucks (Source: BCCL)

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"The strength of MSMSEs in a rapidly changing world is dependent on your progress."

"The strength of MSMSEs in a rapidly changing world is dependent on your progress."


The workforce at MSMSE in Coimbatore (Source: BCCL)

"We need new methods and processes to remove metal from electronic waste and aid in its reuse. Your solutions will benefit craftsmen looking to more products into the market."

"We need new methods and processes to remove metal from electronic waste and aid in its reuse. Your solutions will benefit craftsmen looking to more products into the market."

E-waste collection drive in New Delhi organised by European Union member states (Source: BCCL)

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"I have high expectations from startups implement a green, circular and sustainable economy in villages."

"I have high expectations from startups implement a green, circular and sustainable economy in villages."

Model village set up by former CM D Devaraj Urs in Mysuru, Karnataka (Source: BCCL)

"An emerging challenge in India is addressing the growing pollution from household and farm waste. We have to move quickly to turn this waste into wealth."

"An emerging challenge in India is addressing the growing pollution from household and farm waste. We have to move quickly to turn this waste into wealth."

The latest trash mountain in a lower part of the Ghazipur landfill site in East Delhi (Source: BCCL)

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"We aspire to reduce the use of crude oil by 10% by 2020. This opens up new opportunities in the development of bio-fuel and ethanol-blended fuel for you. Industry-backed research needs a boost. Every stakeholder’s interests will have to be developed."

"We aspire to reduce the use of crude oil by 10% by 2020. This opens up new opportunities in the development of bio-fuel and ethanol-blended fuel for you. Industry-backed research needs a boost. Every stakeholder’s interests will have to be developed."

Large crude carrier MT Diamond with 1.30 lakh tons of crude oil that arrived in Chennai port (Source: BCCL)

"There is a need for a revolution in technology assisting agricultural practices. Can we find farmer-centric solutions to the problems of stock-burning?"

"There is a need for a revolution in technology assisting agricultural practices. Can we find farmer-centric solutions to the problems of stock-burning?"

After harvesting crop from the field, women burning dried Parathi — agricultural waste — at the farm in Aurangabad (Source: BCCL)


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"Can we design the model of clean drinking water supply around the country?"

"Can we design the model of clean drinking water supply around the country?"

Students being taught about the importance of clean drinking water in schools (Source: BCCL)


"How do we prevent affluent and discharge from industries from destroying our soil and our groundwater tables for years to come?"

"How do we prevent affluent and discharge from industries from destroying our soil and our groundwater tables for years to come?"

The oil leak from ONGC Uran plant in 2013, spilling about 5,000 litres of crude oil into the Arabian Sea, spread about 10km along the coastline may causing irreparable damage to the soil and the regions of flora and fauna (Source: BCCL)

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"Another important point I wish to make is the significance of Make in India in the development of medical devices — to bring the fruits of advancements in diagnostics to our people."

"Another important point I wish to make is the significance of Make in India in the development of medical devices — to bring the fruits of advancements in diagnostics to our people."

School students are getting practical chemistry training at the research lab in Chennai to bust myths about chemicals and teach them about basics (Source: BCCL)


"Water recycling and reuse need to become more efficient and cost-effective. It’s up to you to design the technology."

"Water recycling and reuse need to become more efficient and cost-effective. It’s up to you to design the technology."

Bengaluru scientist AR Shivakumar has not had to pay a water bill for 24 years, yet has water supply at all times using rainwater harvesting (Source: BCCL)


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"To promote wellbeing we should not only practise some of the tested tradition wisdom. But also continuously enlarge its scope by introducing the modern tools and concepts of contemporary biomedical research."

"To promote wellbeing we should not only practise some of the tested tradition wisdom. But also continuously enlarge its scope by introducing the modern tools and concepts of contemporary biomedical research."

Special Chief Secretary, Health Medical & Family Welfare Poonam Malakondaiah looking at eye test machine free health camp at the secretariat in Amaravathi (Source: BCCL)


"Our aim should be to protect people from communicable diseases like Nippa and Ebola. We must work overtime to fulfil the promise to eliminate TB by 2025."

"Our aim should be to protect people from communicable diseases like Nippa and Ebola. We must work overtime to fulfil the promise to eliminate TB by 2025."

Students take part in rally on the occasion of World T B Day (Source: BCCL)


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"Globally, India is the leader in the supply of vaccines. We aim to develop India as a world-class $100 million biomanufacturing hub 2024. This will happen with the right policy initiatives and support to innovative research, human resource development and enterprise."

"Globally, India is the leader in the supply of vaccines. We aim to develop India as a world-class $100 million biomanufacturing hub 2024. This will happen with the right policy initiatives and support to innovative research, human resource development and enterprise."

Pulse Polio Vaccine for child at Gateway of India organised by Government of Maharashtra in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)


"India must also develop a longterm roadmap for sustainable and environment transportation."

"India must also develop a longterm roadmap for sustainable and environment transportation."

E-buses launched in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)


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"Development of energy storage options are increasingly significant for green management as we expand our renewable energy supply. This requires developing new battery types which are based on earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials — which are affordable and suitable for tropical climates."

"Development of energy storage options are increasingly significant for green management as we expand our renewable energy supply. This requires developing new battery types which are based on earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials — which are affordable and suitable for tropical climates."

Solar Power Plant installed on a rooftop at a government building in Patna (Source: BCCL)


"The economic and social benefits of accurate weather and climate forecasting are immense."

"The economic and social benefits of accurate weather and climate forecasting are immense."

Pedestrians walk on a waterlogged street during heavy rains in Mumbai (Source: BCCL)

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