Science, Technology and Innovation policy to be approved at Science Congress

Scientists call the policy draft a set of wishful ideas

By Ratnika Sharma
Published: Friday 28 December 2012

To integrate scientific innovation in every day life, the Centre has proposed a new policy called Science, Technology and Innovation (STI). The policy will be approved at the 100th Indian Science Congress, which will be held in Kolkata on January 3-7, 2013. The policy draft, put up on the website of the Department of Science and Technology, was open for public comments till November 22.

India already has the Science and Technology Policy (STP) of 2003 to increase public investments and create a national innovation system to encourage innovation within the country. Yet, at the 99th Science Congress, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had declared that there is a need for a new policy to integrate STP with socio-economic activities. India’s share of global trade in high technology products is currently about 8 per cent. The aim of the policy is to double this share through innovations in high-technology products. India currently invests less than one per cent of its GDP in research and development (R&D) and ranks ninth globally in the number of scientific publications and 12th in the number of patents filed.

The primary goal of the policy draft is to commercialise innovations through incentives, setting up research institutes and encouraging investments from private sector in R&D. The policy proposes to set up a national science, technology and innovation foundation as public private partnership to boost innovations, which will be encouraged in areas like agriculture, telecommunications, energy, water management, drug discovery, material science including nanotechnology, climate change and space technology.

Scientists say the draft text is vague and may not help achieve the objectives. Rajeswari Raina, principal scientist, National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies, described the draft as a set of wishful ideas. “The term innovation has been completely misunderstood. Innovation is not equal to transfer and commercialisation of technology, which is what the document talks about. It fails to answer the ‘how’ question when it comes to providing incentives or making science and technology available, accessible and affordable. Private players are not interested in getting into such a PPP because there is no incentive for them,” she adds.

The policy aspires to link contributions of science, research and innovation system with inclusive economic growth agenda to bridge gaps between knowledge and economic sectors. However, Raina points out, there is a lack of understanding of the structure of science and technology in India. “There is nothing in the document that talks about what the gaps are and how deep and wide they are,” she adds.

Read also: Indian Science Congress: time for makeover


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