Midland academic and manufacturing champion Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya has used the opening of the Research Council UK’s first office in India to press the case for applied maths as an important weapon in the war against global terrorism.
Lord Bhattacharyya, head of Warwick Manufacturing Group, said if a stable security environment could be guaranteed then this would go a long way towards creating a solid platform for economic growth.
Speaking in New Delhi, he said: “We all live in the shadow of modern terrorism. Terror has become the great destabilising force in democratic societies, the knowledge that a small group of people with murderous intent can cause havoc anywhere and to anybody.
“The massive flows of data and people that make international terrorism so threatening also mean that security of information is not an issue restricted to intelligence services.”
“As information is centralised and stored electronically it becomes vulnerable to those who wish to access it for malicious purposes, for example identify theft and financial fraud.
“To fight this we can draw on the power of applied mathematics."
WMG, he noted, had recently created a new e-security group which combines mathematics and computer science with expertise from the defence sector “to highlight the problem and focus on helping companies, large and small”.
It was also an area where Indian researchers had excelled and where both India and the UK could work together.
Similarly, energy issues were fuelling the potential for world conflict.
Lord Bhattacharyya said: “This will become more important as demand for energy becomes one of the defining features of our global environment.
“We can see the after effects of increasing energy demand, not just in oil prices, but in the debate over the future of Iran’s nuclear programme, and in the politics of the Middle East.
“Many of these social conflicts are ripples caused by the need for economies to secure their energy future.”
He said that if ways of managing this demand more effectively could be found, the long term consequences would not just be less polluting cars or more efficient factories, but a less dangerous world.
“In short, the more scientific solutions we apply, the less pressure on resources there will be, and the lower the risk of human conflict and tragedy,” he said.
Lord Bhattacharyya also used his speech to highlight the energy debate and tackling climate change.
“We know that we will need more energy to ensure our economies grow. We also know that the energy we produce now has an unacceptable impact on the environment,” he said.
“That tension creates a double role for researchers. First we need to develop ways of maximising energy efficiency. Second, we need to find new sources of energy.
“Both the UK and India are focused, rightly I believe, on increasing the share of their energy needs that is provided by nuclear power, as well as renewable sources of energy.”
Nuclear energy is an area where most countries have reduced the amount of research and development they conduct, he said, adding this was something that needed addressing.
“But it is not just energy provision we need to worry about. It is energy efficiency too. There is a lot of work being done to improve the efficiency of white goods and domestic appliances,” he said.
However, he said the area which needed attention urgently was the automotive sector.
“Allowable particulate matter emissions from vehicles are to fall tenfold over the next few years in both Europe and India, while nitrous oxide emissions must fall from point one five of a gram to point zero six of a gram per kilometre. Meeting those challenges will be tough for all car manufacturers.
“So we need to look at low carbon vehicles from the bottom up,” he said. “First of all we have to reduce the weight of cars, in order to improve their energy consumption.
“Bringing together lightweight materials, including biomaterials, could transform car weights and environmental impacts.”