‘We Make a Life by What We Contribute’

Defining science, technology, and innovation as the cornerstones of national growth, internationally renowned technology leader and former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman Dr K Radhakrishnan encouraged the graduating class of 2022 at Ahmedabad University to look beyond the goal accomplished to the future it promised. He said, “As you look forward to that future, I wish you to consider taking action on the key technical, social, and environmental issues our world faces today. We must keep looking for better ways and means of realising an improved living environment for humankind while we walk on our way to personal growth. We make a living by what we earn; we make a life by what we contribute.”

“It is time to contemplate at this juncture whether we should continue on a path of incremental innovation and improvement or aim for a paradigm shift and follow the path of disruptive innovation. Several Indian brains lead disruptive innovation elsewhere in the world, and many more Indian brains continue to support offshore development centres in India. Concerted efforts are essential to harness this talent to generate intellectual property for India maximally,” he said.

He added that India continues to be a major importer of capital goods, electronics components and products, computers, telecom equipment, biomedical equipment, aircraft, and modern transport systems, as well as vital systems for strategic sectors and that the slow adoption of modern technology was affecting the country. “In terms of technological intensity in the exports of manufactured goods, India stands low, even when compared to developing countries. Renewed emphasis on materials and manufacturing technology is the need of the hour,” Dr Radhakrishan observed. 

He pointed to society-centric technology as the bedrock of national progress even as he spoke about the space programmes of India. “We should not be oblivious to the humanitarian impacts of adopting the disruptions, especially in India with a predominantly labour-intensive and rural structure. The cardinal question that any technology intervention must focus on is not ‘which technology I need to adopt’ but ‘how the technology will make a difference to the life of the users’. The Indian space programme is a vehicle for selfless service to society with self-reliance whereas that of other nations reflects one-upmanship.”

Dr Radhakrishnan was the Chief Guest at the 12th Annual Convocation of Ahmedabad University, where 439 students received their degrees, including 205 students from the Amrut Mody School of Management, 27 students from the School of Arts and Sciences, 207 students from the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and four doctoral students.