"We have to prioritise funding and support pragmatic, useful research," said Bharat Ratna scientist CNR Rao. (Watch Video here)
To compete with the rest of the world, India has to create institutions where young people can work, he felt.
Nobel laureate biologist Venkataraman Ramakrishnan said India must invest in molecular biology to take giant strides in its progress. He added that India must focus on its own intellectual property.
Agricultural scientist MS Swaminathan, often referred to as the father of India's green revolution, was concerned about stagnation in agricultural research. "Our country still has large untapped production reservoir," he said, talking about greater focus on a second green revolution.
Tata Consultancy Services CEO Natarajan Chandrasekaran agreed that most of India's problems have to be solved with technology.
"IT has a huge role to play, particularly in dealing with corruption. It will bring in transparency, everything will be real-time," Mr Chandrasekaran said. (Investment in research is key: N Chandrasekaran)
CNR Rao expressed concern, however, that India had failed to support education. "Before we talk of science, we need to do more for schools. It is important to make teachers and teaching a national mission," he said.
He was responding to eminent writer Vikram Seth's question for the scientists, on whether India's federal structure had a bearing on the development of science and technology in the country.
Mr Venkataraman pointed out that political decisions played a big part in evolving solutions through science and technology.
"Science and technology can provide technical solutions, but first saying that there is a problem and it needs a solution that is a political process. Pollution of rivers is not a science problem. It's a political and societal problem," said the Nobel laureate.