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India's science minister has expressed concern about the ability of the nation's universities to produce enough high-quality scientists and technologists to meet its national needs.

Opening the annual Indian Science Congress in Chandigarh last Saturday (4 January), Murli Manohar Joshi said that there was currently a mismatch between the number of bright students opting for a career in science, and the nation's demand for scientific research and development.

"If we want to achieve a reasonable level of well-being for all our citizens, it is imperative to have a high level of excellence of scientific and technological skills of human resources," said Joshi.

To encourage this process, the minister announced the creation of two awards for outstanding contributions to science. The awards — 'Purush Vigyanik' for male scientists, and 'Mahila Vigyanik' for female scientists — will each carry a cash prize of 50,000 rupees.

Joshi apologised for the absence of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who had had to cancel his regular visit to the science congress at the last moment in order to attend the meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Link to full article in the Times of India