The five-day event will see deliberations and presentation of papers by the scientific fraternity from across the globe.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday called for greater academic autonomy, focus on research, and need to nurture future generations of scientists. Mr. Modi was talking at the inaugural function of the 102nd Indian Science Congress at Mumbai University.
The need of the hour for a sustainable and prosperous country is to put science and technology at the top of our national priority, Mr. Modi said.
"Digital connectivity should become as much a basic right as access to school," he said, adding that India Inc. needed to fund more research through various initiatives including Corporate Social Responsibility.
He also invited the Indian scientific diaspora to contribute by guiding and teaching the doctorate scholars in the country.
While lauding the Indian scientists for their contribution in the fields of space technology, agriculture and biotechnology, he laid down priorities for research in the fields of clean energy, agriculture, biotechnology, agriculture and health care.
Mr. Modi said he had placed science and technology at the forefront of the country's diplomatic engagement.
"I feel humbled by the work scientists do. Since independence, scientists have made outstanding institutions with modest resources. They have alleviated some of the most acute challenges of human development, have increased food production, have secured borders and have increased the pace of industrial progress," he said.
He also lauded the scientists for accurate prediction of cyclone Hudhud, and the way the prediction helped save millions of lives.
Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis harped on India's glorious past and its ancient contribution to the fields of science and maths.
Invoking the Vedas to explain the purpose of science, Mr. Modi said that science is as much driven by the compassion of human heart to make human life better.
"We knew Algebra much before the Arabs did, but we gracefully gave its credit away to them. We knew Pythagoras theorem before the Greek," Dr. Harsh Vardhan said.
Mr. Fadnavis said that the country had, since ancient times, been committed to scientific inquiry and rigour.
"Our scientific penchant has kept our civilisation alive. History has shown that whenever we have given up scientific inquiry and have blindly followed rituals, we have not progressed," he said.
Challenges before Maharashtra
Mr. Fadnavis said that the biggest challenges before him as the Chief Minister of Maharashtra were malnourishment and agricultural distress.
"Climate change has made sustainable agriculture a challenge. Till now, we have given Rs. 8,000 crore as relief to farmers due to various disasters like untimely monsoons, drought, hailstorms. We need to understand this climatic change and find ways to make traditional agriculture sustainable. We also need to find ways to fight chronic malnourishment among our children," he said.
The Mumbai University has hosted the Indian Science Congress after 54 years. Over 15,000 national and international delegates have registered for the massive event which will continue till January 7.