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Women face credibility challenge: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
Be it entrepreneurship or any profession, women face credibility challenge is everywhere, viewed Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited.

She was delivering the IHC Annual Lecture - 2018 on Strategic Importance of Data in Research & Innovation on Monday, 5 February, 2018 in New Delhi at a packed auditorium of India Habitat Centre.

Calling data the “king” in research and innovation, Shaw said that big data can be the most potential instrument for transformative social change. However, she warned against misuse or loss of data stating that loss and unavailability of data could be ‘life-threatening’, because both their use and misuse have huge impact on society.

Citing the great power of data, she said that the huge success of Uber was due to its ownership of biggest data about customers which made it leverage real time navigation. Data opens new opportunities. Better analysis of data can be of great help in the field of medicine and technology which can result in finding ways of treatment of diseases and meeting great demands, she said.

The Indian biotechnology industry pioneer, who started her business career at a young age in 1978, termed entrepreneurship as “the most enduring test” in which “failure leads to success with the condition that one has faith in the risk-taking” and knows what risks are being taken.

Responding to a question if, being woman, she felt any difficulty in her career, she said, “Every woman faces credibility challenge” because it is the way society is. However, if a woman has a supportive family, especially spouse, she eventually succeeds as a number of such examples could be cited from her own experience.

Stressing the need for data safety she suggested that one way to prevent or lessen the misuse of data is through education. We need to have a very strong narrative about the ethics in science. Finding innovative ways can also tackle the issue of spurious drugs, she opined. When asked about lack of permission for clinical trials, she said that restrictions existed but there were winds of favourable change.

She stressed the need for tapping the huge talent that India has in different fields, for example, the ingenuity of Indians in mathematics. She said, “Mathematics is in our DNA” but regretted the fact that we have lost that “curiosity of knowledge”.

She also highlighted the significance of vernacular and complained as why we didn’t teach mathematics in the vernacular. There is no dearth of talent, but we need to tap them. We have small islands of excellence but we are not scaling them, she said while referring to some of the best institutions of data and statistical sciences in the country.

Kiran Karnik and Rakesh Kacker, President and Director respectively of the India Habitat Centre were present and shared their views.

(Manzar Imam is a PhD student at the Academy of International Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia and is also doing an online program “Contending Modernities” of the University of Notre Dame, USA)

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