Notwithstanding their inclusion in the 2014 Lok Sabha election
manifestos, the promises on promoting science and technology must be
translated into "solid action" by the political class or else India's
goal to become a developed nation would remain a pipe dream, say
"Science and technology has not even got the fraction of
attention it deserves. What I would like to see is some solid action on
"Unless politicians recognise the importance and make a
substantial investment in the sector, India's dream to become a
developed nation will just remain in the pipelines," Sibaji Raha,
director, Bose Institute, Kolkata, told IANS.
community demands that the next government at the centre set aside a
bigger chunk of the budget for research and development, create
infrastructure for "continuous innovations" and boost science movements
among the electorate and dovetail this with the private sector's aid.
to science and technology policy studies expert Pranav Desai: "The next
government should first enhance allocation for science and technology/R
and D, education and health sectors substantially."
focus more on programmes that provide greater access to technology and
reduction in income and gender disparities," he said.
manifesto, for example, harps on the encouragement and incentivisation
of private sector investments - both domestic and foreign - in science
and technology and in high-end research "aimed towards innovation".
The Congress says it will increase the annual expenditure on science and technology to at least two percent of GDP.
Desai believes politicians do appreciate the economic value of science
and environment, they need to take it to the next level.
they need to realise are the linkages between economic value and science
and environment," said Desai, professor and chairperson, Centre for
Studies in Science Policy (CSSP) at the School of Social Sciences of
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Amit Kumar, director,
Energy Environment Technology Development, The Energy and Resources
Institute (TERI), points out that "with right conditions created by the
government, the private sector can also be encouraged to contribute
"And it is high time that the government moved away
from its fixation whereby disproportionately large share of its
resources goes to government institutions. In fact fruition of research
carried out in non-government institutions of excellence is far
greater," he told IANS.
While the incumbent regime has framed
policies like the Science, Technology and Innovation policy (2013),
there is a requirement for policies that can reverse the brain drain.
policies should signal that India is all business in this field,
enticing the best talent globally, including those Indians that have
settled abroad for want of conducive environment domestically," Kumar
Another aspect to this is enhancing public participation
and, with fostering the scientific temper enshrined in the Constitution,
the "gaps and glaring disparities in specific regions or sector" need
to be bridged, said Desai in an email interaction to IANS.
present government has taken many measures towards fostering scientific
temper. But a lot is desired to be initiated in terms of innovative
programmes designed for specific groups and sectors given the magnitude
of the problem," he said.
One of them is boosting strong people's
science movements in the northern part of the country, on the lines of
the initiatives that heralded public awareness about the role of science
in society in south India.
Pressing problems of primary
healthcare, connected to environment, water and nutrition and "equally
serious" issues of women and child health could be attributed to lack of
awareness and understanding of science, says Desai.
without adequate focus on science and technology, many of these promises
might never be fulfilled in a timely and cost-efficient manner," said
A well-known advocate of boosting rational thinking among
masses, scientist Pushpa M. Bhargava asserts it will be a "huge
challenge" for India's next parliament as there is a strong link between
development of scientific thinking and secularism.
people still flock to godmen...even the scientific fraternity is not
without its fault," Bhargava, founder and former director of the Centre
for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, told IANS over the
"Every time there is a rocket launch, the scientists visit
Tirupati temples...don't they have faith in their own scientists'
efforts? Scientific temper among masses is indispensable for
secularism," said Bhargava.