India has a strong network of science & technology institutions and trained manpower. It has the third-largest scientific and technical manpower in the world with 162 universities awarding over 4,000 doctorates degrees and 35,000 post graduate degrees annually. India is among the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research and ranks 12th in terms of the number of patents filed. India also ranks ninth globally in terms of the number of scientific publications.
India has been strengthening its position in research through investment. India‘s R&D globalisation and services market is expected to reach US$ 38 billion by 2020. More than one-third of the top 1,000 global R&D spenders have centers in India. Going forward, India’s investment in R&D sector is expected to rise from 0.8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP in 2034.
In recent years, the Government of India has implemented several fellowship schemes to nurture human capacity for advanced research in the country. The Government is also providing continued policy support in the form of Science, Technology & Innovation Policy 2013 and the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2012–17). Through Science, Technology and Innovation policy, the Government promotes mechanisms for nurturing technology business incubators and science led entrepreneurship.
2010–2020 has been declared the ‘Decade of Innovation’ to stimulate innovations and produce solutions for societal needs such as healthcare, energy, infrastructure, water and transportation.
R&D funding is low [in India] but these things can be changed. The government investment may be low but private funding is much lower.
There is no reason why India couldn’t become a much stronger science power. Demography is in its favour. But it requires a sustained commitment to science, requires very good governance of science, flexibility and autonomy for investigators.
National S&T Commission
The National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC) is mandated to communicate Science and Technology to masses, stimulate scientific and technological temper and coordinate and orchestrate such efforts throughout the country. The programmes of NCSTC aims at building capacity for informed decision making in the community and promote scientific thinking. It is devoted towards societal upliftment through the dissemination of scientific knowledge in an informed manner and builds programmes with the help of different media which percolate down to every nook and corner of the society.
The NCSTC focuses on outreach activities, training in Science and Technology communication, development, production & dissemination of S & T software, incentive programmes, and field based Sci-Com projects, research in S&T communication, international co-operation, motivating students and teachers, environment awareness and programmes with a special component exclusively for women.
Some of its important successful initiatives, over the years include the campaigns over the Year of Scientific Awareness, Year of Physics, Year of Astronomy, Year of Mathematics, observation of the National Science Day and National Mathematics Day, the National Children’s Science Congress, National Teacher’s Science Congress, and Science Express etc.
A multi- pronged effort has been developed by the NCSTC including:
- Communicating science using folk media;
- Use of mass & digital media for science communication and popularization;
- Use of Social media in science and Technology Popularization
Social impact of science and technology
Researchers’ priorities for improving science in India should include a commitment to assess the social impacts of new technologies in the Indian context. Big dams and atomic-energy programmes offered solutions to many of India’s problems after independence in 1947; the green revolution and biotechnology followed. Stem-cell therapy, nanotechnology, synthetic biology and pharmacogenomics are all now taking off.
India sometimes seems prepared to overlook the potential societal consequences of such technologies in the name of development and progress. Its Land Acquisition Bill 2015, for example, seeks to exempt some important projects on defence, infrastructure and industrial regions from social assessment. The impact of new technologies on India’s sizeable poor and vulnerable population should be analysed before such innovations are introduced.