Dr K K Jha
Applied Science and Humanities, DCE, Gurgaon
The advances of science and technology have a profound impact on our lives in almost every sphere of activity, such as health, agriculture, communication, transportation, and defence. These advances have been driven by an ever-growing exciting discoveries, patented and parented by science laboratories in the West, and by their transformation into technology and new products that have flooded world markets. . The world is today sharply divided by a technology boundary that separates the technologically advanced countries from the technologically backward ones. India shares almost 1500 Km geographical boundaries each with China and Pakistan. The three neighbors show almost the same (poor) indicators of social development but they are struggling to achieve sustainable economic growth, self-reliance in technology development and in gaining an important global position. India, Pakistan and China have totally different political systems which play a vital role in their growth and development and in shaping their science and technology policies.
Science in India is on the move in a big way. The government has initiated multibillion dollar investments to kick start research, education, and innovation over the next five years. In early 2013, government announced an ambitious science, technology, and innovation funding protocol: in the next five years, double its investment in science and technology and, by 2020, drive India’s output of scientific publications to be among the top five nations globally. According to Prof. C. N. Rao chairman of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister “The government is going to inject $5 billion into science and technology over the next five years,”. “This doubles the investment to-date from 1% to 2% of GDP.” This increase in funding is aimed at creating jobs, educating technical leaders, and improving the quality of science in this country of 1.2 billion people.
India seeks to improve its global scientific reputation. The creation of new institutions and universities (funded by Govt. and private), opportunities for independent leadership training, and efforts to expand fundamental research base and cultivate a culture of technology transfer are just a few components to encourage young researchers to set up their own industry. In addition, international alliances, collaborations between India and other developed nations has helped building strong scientific capacity within the subcontinent.
But despite these outreach and funding programs, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed for making India super power in 2020.
Quality of Science / Technology Education:
Recent infrastructure investment programmes have successfully produced new facilities and institutions all over India. However, there is insufficient talent within India to take up this task. Nonetheless, theoretical and experimental / analytical research in India is moving forward with areas such as nanotechnology, clean energy, and of course health at the forefront. Our space,and defence (R&D) programme is slowly moving towards self reliance.
Expanding Facilities and Infrastructure:
The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are among India’s most prestigious academic institutions. These autonomous institutes were established in the early 1960s, and the government has since expanded their number from the original five—Kharagpur, Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai), Kanpur, and Delhi—to a total of 16. This increase reflects the government’s new policies to give students from a wider range of social backgrounds the opportunity to study at India’s top-tier universities. However, the products of IIT preferred to join lucrative jobs elsewhere and the potential trained manpower failed to do justice with the country.
In recent years the nation has launched five new Indian institutes of science education and research, eight new IITs, 16 new central universities, 10 new national institutes of technology, six new research and development institutions in biotechnology, and five institutions in other branches including bio- materials and solar energy.
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) in Mumbai, one of India’s oldest and premier basic research institutes has opened its new campus. The new 200-acre campus will be significantly larger than the Mumbai facility. A new International Centre for Theoretical Sciences in Bangalore—similar to, but broader in scope than the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge, which organizes international research programs in pure and applied mathematics has been established. Although, “finding high-quality staff to teach and manage the new centers will be a challenge.” Since 1980 we encouraged technical managers and sales managers than high quality researchers. In fact a vacuum has been created and it is difficult to find committed skilled researchers.
In an effort to fill the abundance of new positions, the government has established programs to court Indians working abroad back to their home country. Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) has taken steps to attract highly skilled researchers working overseas.
Increasing Career Opportunities
With the increases in funding and rapidly expanding institutions, opportunities are becoming more readily available for scientists who want to work in India.
One challenge that is on the minds of both Indian academics and government representatives is the ability to draw and retain talented post docs and other early-career scholars into India’s institutions. Some researchers are less than optimistic about finding a solution to attract post docs to India when higher remuneration packages are available in the West. Although this situation is not uncommon in India, certain national, international, “and institutional programs may be helping to alleviate this problem.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Nehru Science Postdoctoral Research Fellowship is one such program designed to engage younger scientists. This postdoc opportunity seeks to identify promising young researchers with innovative ideas and provide them with training to transition into independent research careers.
Growing Talent Early
The new funding may prove fruitful for innovation, but there is a need for greater access to education for Indians—approximately half of whom are under 25 years old. The government has responded to calls for greater educational opportunities for young people from a wider spectrum of society, and recently the DST launched the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) program, with the aim of attracting students to science and expects to have funded one million young scholars by 2014.
This is just one program that seeks to build research capacity by giving students the opportunity to gain vital research-related skills. This is important in order to sustain global competitiveness among progressive nations like China. According to C. N. Rao, China, currently produces almost as many journal articles as the United States, and will soon overtake the U.S. China graduates some 20,000 Ph.D.s annually., “How can we compete with this?”
Policymakers want India to increase the number of top scientific publications. To achieve this we need more high-quality submissions, and to achieve that we need more good people. Unfortunately most of the scientific leaders have never soiled their hands.
One of the challenges to finding “good people” is that many Indian students prefer to major in engineering rather than science, because of the promise and prestige of lucrative industrial career opportunities. But India’s leaders recognized the need to motivate more youngsters to pursue science careers and hone research skills by forming five Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) in 2007. Here, faculty members have the freedom to pursue interdisciplinary projects while engaging their undergraduates in research.
The Khorana Program is an international consortium also designed to enhance research capacity within India and across borders. Jointly supported by UW, DBT, and the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF), and launched in 2008, the program grants Indian and American students the opportunity to pursue research at universities in each other’s nations.
Developing Research Areas
The new funding policy will advance India’s prowess in a number of strategic industries, such as space, energy, and the life sciences as well as important research areas in physics, materials science, and atmospheric science. Planned missions to Mars and a neutrino observatory will receive financial support under the new framework.
But it is also the new policy’s acknowledgement of the role of innovation in targeted technological industries that is contributing to a renewed excitement among India’s scientists. Energy is one of those strategic sectors, and many of India’s scientific leaders are leveraging the government’s interest in it to enhance vital research programs. For example, as materials science plays a central role in developing innovative technologies for the growing energy market, scientists like Arindam Ghosh at IISc are advancing materials research in graphene for solar cells and nanoelectronics.
India’s scientists are also working with their counterparts in the United States on a major new Indo-U.S. initiative called the Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States (SERIIUS), funded through the U.S.-India Partnership to Advance Clean Energy and administered by IUSSTF. India needs every drop of power we can produce.
Affordable health care and medical devices not requiring external electrical sources of power for operation are high-priority projects being undertaken at the CeNSE at IISc. “India has the largest number of people with diabetes in the world, We want to use nanoelectronics to produce cheap wireless biosensors to monitor this disease in people living in rural India.”
The Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine (in Stem), and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) on the NCBS campus are at the forefront of life sciences and translational medical research. “We offer an excellent environment for engaging in fundamental interdisciplinary research and also for early translation. We want to encourage our researchers to move ideas from discovery to innovation. To do so, NCSB has partnered with industry leaders to accelerate commercialization. Recent examples of successful projects include an inexpensive kit to test for HIV/AIDS; the licensing of this technology is being negotiated with global companies.
This emphasis on translational research and technology transfer is being amplified throughout the country. The Tata Innovation Fellowship, a highly competitive scheme instituted by the DBT, recognizes and rewards innovative and productive life science researchers. Its specific prominence is on interdisciplinary, translational research with a potential for technology commercialization.
Both challenges and hope lie ahead for India. Other often neglected but important science-related issues to address include establishing university curricula to improve the ability of young students to communicate in English, especially technical writing; the introduction of coordinated proactive strategies by research institutes to improve the ‘visibility’ of their scientists; incentives and financial support for entrepreneurial scientists to set up companies to commercialize ideas; and changes in labor laws to enable universities to hire qualified scientists irrespective of nationality.
The general mood of scientists—both veterans and young returnees—in India is positive. “India needs to build many more ‘innovation ecosystems’ like NCBS where there is a lot of intellectual freedom and a drive to define the cutting edge at an international level.”
And as Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently said in an interview with Science, “One has to be optimistic. (….), unless one is optimistic, one is overwhelmed by the dimension of the development task that we have to accomplish.”
“Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment, and our quality of life than it has ever been before.” – President Barack Obama, April 27, 2009
India’s Science, Technology, Innovation Policy of 2013
“A strong and visible Science, Research and Innovation System for High Technology led path for India” – “SRISHTI” – is the main goal of India’s new Science, Technology and Innovation policy (2013). At the 2010 Indian Science Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared 2010-20 as the “Decade of Innovations” and formed the National Innovation Council. The STI Policy 2013 is in furtherance of the declaration and aims to bring fresh perspectives to bear on innovation in the changing context.
The statement “India’s global competitiveness will be determined by the extent to which the STI enterprise contributes social good and/or economic wealth” reflects India’s concerns about achieving higher economic growth for all sector development. Energy and environment, food and nutrition, water and sanitation, habitat, affordable health care and skill building and unemployment are the major identified areas that need new structural mechanisms and models, while the promotion of scientific temper, enhancing skill for application of science among the youth, making careers in science, making research and innovation attractive are some of the other major elements identified for connecting science with the people and increasing the number of skilled manpower in the Science & Technology (S&T) sector. In the new STI policy equal weightage is given to establishing world class R&D infrastructure, positioning India among the top five countries of the world and increasing private sector participation in R&D. India is looking to increase its Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) to two per cent of the GDP in the coming years.
Promoting the establishment of large R&D facilities in public-private partnership (PPP) mode, permitting the participation of multiple stakeholders in the R&D system, treating R&D in the private sector at par with public establishments are some of the other proposed points that are mentioned in the new policy to get more private investments in India’s S&T programs.’ STI policy 2013, gives hope to achieve high in developing indigenous technology by increasing private sector involvement in its S&T programmes.
Pakistan: Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2012
“To achieve the security, prosperity and social cohesion of Pakistan through equitable and sustainable socio-economic progress using science, technology and innovation as central pillars of development in all sectors of economic activity” is the main vision of Pakistan’s Science, Technology and Innovation policy (2012). STI 2012 highlights four major areas – Socio-economic development, Human resource development, R&D infrastructure and S&T management – in which Pakistan wants to see more progress. Pakistan is looking forward to increase its R&D expenditure; which will be one per cent of GDP by 2015 and two per cent by 2020. The prominent features of the current policy are the proposal for an effective mechanism of policy oversight, highlighting innovation as a driver of economic activity, paradigm shift from supply to demand side and an effort to align ST&I policy with national policies in other economic sectors.’ 16 Thrust Areas are also identified for R&D activities. In this new policy, focus is more on promoting R&D activities, programmes for technology transfer and technology development.
Science and Technology Programmes of China
China’s science and technology is undergoing a great development. In all, the increasing development of China’s overall S&T capacity narrows its gap with the world level in science. China keeps pace with developed countries in some key research areas, while it has already reached the world level or even ranked top in some emerging research areas. China’s output in science and technology increased fast; its innovation capacity has greatly strengthened, the role of science and technology in socio-economic development has greatly enhanced, and the public awareness of innovation and science greatly improved.
China has developed its long term S&T programs in the form of “Science and Technology in China: A Roadmap to 2050”, which was published in a Strategic General report of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2010. China has identified eight basic and strategic systems for socio-economic development and twenty–two S&T initiatives of strategic importance to China’s modernization.
In January 2006, China initiated a 15-year “Medium to Long term Plan (MLP) for the development of science and Technology”. The MLP calls for China to become an “innovation-oriented society” by the year 2020 and a World leader in science and technology by 2050. China’s science and technology programmes are more oriented towards developing “indigenous technology” and new “innovations”. In coming years China is planning to reduce imported technology and promote R&D infrastructure and activities. Since long China is investing a great deal in science education, specifically higher education in science and technology, to develop world class scientists and make China self-reliant in technology development.
Since 1980, China is following very well developed science and technology programmes, plans and policies both for developmental and security requirements. China is running five major national programmes under the banner of National Programs for Science and Technology, which includes: The National Program for Key Science and Technology Programs (Key Technologies Research and Development Program – renamed in 2006 “zhicheng” or support), National High Technology Research and Development Program – (863 Programs), National Key Basic Research Program (973 Programs), The Torch Program, The Spark Program.
An Overview of Economic Growth of India, Pakistan and China in recent years
“The re-emergence of China and India as major forces in the world economy is one of the most important developments in the early 21st century.” “The growth rate of their gross domestic products from 2020 to 2025 is expected to be about the same—5.7 percent in China and 5.6 percent in India. China’s current overall GDP is about three times larger than India’s, and by 2025 the difference between their two GDPs is estimated to be $4.4 trillion annually.” The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan grew by 3.67 per cent in 2012. These different growth patterns of economic development also tell different growth stories of science and technology development in these three countries.
Brief Analysis of Science and Technology Achievements of India, Pakistan and China
In recent times, the IT Industry, Space and missile programmes and Research in basic science have emerged as major areas in which India is showing good progress at the domestic and international levels. But in spite of having a good number of science and technology institutes and organizations, policies and programmes, a good number of human resources and recent economic progress, India’s science and technology programmes are suffering due to a number of reasons, of which lack of coordination between organizations and improper implementation of policies are the two main reasons affecting India’s science and technology programmes.
Pakistan has developed a good number of science and technology institutes and universities for higher education and research. But its scientific programmes have always been influenced by other countries’ political and economic agendas. Between the 1950s and 1970s Pakistan received scientific and technical support from the USA while China emerged as a trusted ally in the 1960s. China has provided blueprints for its nuclear programme and the material required for developing nuclear weapons. “Pakistan has achieved a lot in nuclear science and acquired complete nuclear capability in 1983.” Post 9/11, Pakistan is getting more international funds including from the USA for different development programmes.
The Chinese government’s national science programmes and industrial policies aimed at high tech industries are a significant contributor to the technological successes enjoyed by Chinese firms. Among the factors propelling China‘s emergence as a techno-industrial power is its low-cost manufacturing capabilities, a huge market, an export promotion strategy, and the shrewd appropriation of the best technology from the international system.’ China’s science and technology programs are highly motivated towards economic Development and national Security. It is constantly increasing its strength in fulfilling security requirements and achieving sustainable high economic growth.
India, Pakistan and China are three different countries with varying socio-cultural, economic and historical backgrounds. S&T innovations and economic growth are two sides of the same coin and deeply interconnected with each other. Today we are living in a globally connected world. These connections and collaborations are purely for business and economic purposes, but in coming years we will see global cooperation in the field of science, technology and innovations as well. But we should not forget that such collaboration and cooperation are premised on political, strategic and economic interests. These new developments in the science and technology policies of India, Pakistan and China will change global perspectives in many ways the in coming years. In such a scenario it will be interesting to see how science and technology innovations and all such collaborations will shape relations between India, Pakistan and China.
News paper articles (The Hindu, The Times of India, The Indian Express, The Hindustan)
Dr K. K. Jha
DRDO, Ministry Of Defence, GOI
Mob no.:- 08954436364