In developing nations, Science Policy has a special significance because it is a measurement of development. It helps in formulating national goals and systematic planning in various sectors including, security agriculture, infrastructure etc. A well-defined Science Policy in India too will go a long way in achieving aspirations of the people, writes our correspondent
A Science Policy is not a mere allocation and institutional management of funds and resources provided for R&D; in its broadest sense, it concerns itself with the generation of new knowledge and its application to the development of society. A Science Policy inherently involves considerations not only of the economist, the sociologist and the philosopher, but also of the political leadership.
The Science Policy in India was first formulated under the Science Policy Resolution of 1958 guided by the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru. Various constraints had arisen at that time within which it had to function, and immediate measures were taken to implement the policies effectively.
Policy’s effectiveness on a public platform
“The evolution of scientific temper in that era was a commendable way to start the revolution in Science and Technology for India. Establishment of Institutions like DRDO, ICMR, CSIR, etc made a great contribution in developing the country, technology wise,” said Dharam Singh Janghu, former engineer in Municipal Corporation of Delhi, who has closely followed India’s S&T (Science & Technology) development.
The 78-year old engineer is proud to be a part of developing India. “The early era of science and technology was a big responsibility and gave a boost to the growth of India. India's Policy on Science and Technology was clear that time as initially we were only focusing on Agriculture and Industry development. The emphasis was vital for us to survive immediately after independence and that’s also why there were the first five year plans made.”
“Later, coordination between the Indian government and the Soviet Union led to the organized development of Nuclear and Space technologies. Computers came when I gave up the will to learn about new gen gadgets. However, the smartphones, apps and software jig do impress me a lot. We walked down pretty good lanes of development and are heading towards achieving new goals,” he added optimistically.
On one hand, we have the generation that appreciates the science and technology development process from the 1950’s to now. But, we also have a generation that has been denied the progress and who demand a whole new policy spectrum for Science, Technology and Innovation or STIs for pushing India on the developed country list.
“India's policy on STI has become imprecise in recent years due to many internal problems like unethical practices in promotions, lack of funds, no academics industry collaboration, plagiarism, brain drain, lack of political will, etc,” said Dr Shashank Gupta, Educator of Applied Science.
“Despite conducting successful missions like Chandrayaan, Mangalyaan, Agni V etc still there is always some sort of disconnect between the people who are working in ISRO and students who wants to learn but have no constructive courses or collaborations. The theory and practical department are suffering due to lack of vision for the overall science and technology as a field of development,” Dr Gupta shared with Policy Pulse.
Indian Science, Technology and Innovation Policy
According to an official government document, the latest Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) policy was upgraded in year 2013. The website reads, “STI have emerged as the major drivers of national development globally. As India aspires for faster, sustainable and inclusive growth, the Indian STI system with the advantages of a large demographic dividend and the huge talent pool, will need to play a defining role in achieving these national goals. The national STI enterprises must become central to national development (sic).”
STI Formation: Change of course
The very first policy on Science was evolved in 1958 and since then the policies has been updating with accordance of the latest research, country’s infrastructure needs and global revolutions.
1) First National Policy for Science was developed in 1958 as part of India’s Scientific Policy Resolution. It promoted, “Cultivation Science and Research in Agricultural Sector”
2) The second policy was made in 1983 titled Technology Policy Statement. This policy covered methods to attain self-reliance and technological competence among countries
3) The third policy came in 2003 titled the Science and Technology Policy. It emphasized the need for investment in Research and Development for better growth in India
4) The fourth policy in 2013 was termed Science, Technology and Innovation. This was made to address the national problems as well creating an innovation system in India.
According to the latest data, government will spend 209 billion in 2016 for research purposes. The latest budget also covers regulatory architecture, government to help 10 public and 10 private Indian institutions and provide them high-tech facilities for better R&D projects.
Need for a Science Policy
Scientific innovation is the backbone of developed counties. Research, in various fields, ensures a nation’s security, wealth and parity, among other values. These newly developed technologies and innovations can be deployed very effectively for economical and societal upgradation.
“Science has profoundly influenced the human civilization. It provided us remarkable insights into the world we live in and give the precise answers of universe and micro life related questions that we can never guess,” says Dr Vishal Saxena, associate professor at IIT Roorkee.
Talking to Policy Pulse Dr Saxena said, “The recent revolutions in 20th or 21st century have generated various innovations that simplified our lives but we still need to work on many other fields to strengthen India with thrice much power; “Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyaan” is my mantra for successful India. We are in the era where we have to ensure fullest use of these developments for the well being of our people.”
“We need stronger and deeper policies to assimilate Indian scientific ideas and techniques in our new innovations. Policies should be made with open-mindedness and a rational attitude which have scientific ethos and ethics. Policies such as funding for new researches, development of new institutions, future scientific advances should be seen with an integrated holistic approach. Prior to Independence, there was an awakening of modern science in India, we need that type of boost again for great scientific advances of the highest caliber,” he added.
Talking about the present day scenario and possible future solutions, Dr Shashank Gupta said, “As we know, in the present condition we have no coordination between the tutors and students of science. Even if India is working hard in some fields of STI yet we have forgotten our basics. The organized way of development and clear vision policies coupled with coordination among different ministries like agriculture, industry, science and tech itself may change the picture.”
“It is high time that ministries and their individual departments work with states’ support and follow closely how research wings, policy making heads, academia, etc. are in dire need for working together to bring back the scientific temperament and a clear vision for the better and progressive development,” Dr Gupta added.
Objectives of Policy Making
Objectives need to ensure that the policy making process should remain steady yet the policies should always be ever evolving so that science and technology can be fully integrated with different spheres of national activity. Science and Technology Policy should include (the bold ones are already being followed in the current STI policy of the Government)
1) Insurance in food, agricultural, environmental, nutritional, health sectors
2) Poverty alleviation, livelihood security, regional balances
3) Provide employment by providing scientific and technological capabilities
4) Increase the traditional knowledge pool
5) Foster scientific research in universities and other academic, scientific and engineering institutions
6) Attract youngsters to make careers in science and technology
7) Build and maintain centres of excellence, raise the level of international standards
8) Empower of women in all science and technology activities and ensure their equal participation
9) Provide freedom of functioning for all academic and R&D institutions
10) Sustain the potential of modern science and technology
11) Accomplish national strategic and security-related objectives
12) Establish strong Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime and protect of intellectual property of all the inventors
13) Provide a strong, speedy and sustainable domestic commercialization of inventions
14) Grant space for private sector participation in R&D
15) Give high-speed access to information, both in quality and quantity, at affordable costs
Support forecasting, prevention and mitigation of natural hazards
Indian Science, Technology and Innovation Systems should be infused with vitality, which advances all sections of our society. Its central role should be reorganized in raising the quality of life of the people of the country, particularly of the disadvantaged sections of society, in making India globally competitive and in protecting the environment and ensuring national security.