Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said one “pilot project” was over, and now it was time for the “real one”. The remark came minutes after Pakistan announced that it will release the Indian Air Force pilot it had arrested the previous day. Modi’s indirect reference was his opening remark at an award function at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on the occasion of National Science Day.
“You are people who spend time in laboratories,” Modi told the audience as he began his address. “There is a tradition of doing pilot projects first, and then they are made scalable. Just now, a pilot project has got over. Now we have to do the ‘real one’, it was ‘practice’ till now.”
He then moved on to explain what he meant by the “real one”, which, he said, was to “give a standing ovation to the winners”. Modi was presenting the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prizes, which are given for research in scientific fields. National Science Day marks the anniversary of Nobel laureate Sir CV Raman’s discovery of the Raman Effect.
Modi also praised the achievements of Indian scientists.
Minutes earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had announced that Islamabad will release the Indian Air Force pilot in its custody on Friday “as a peace gesture”. Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was taken in custody in Pakistan on Wednesday after his MiG 21 fighter jet was shot down in aerial skirmishes involving the two countries.
Earlier on Thursday, Indian government sources had said they would not seek consular access to the IAF pilot and had reiterated there would be “no deal” with Pakistan.