ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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New Science, Technology and Innovation Policy

A Critical Assessment

The government is quite high on rhetoric and intentions in the new science, technology and innovation policy announced recently by the prime minister. But it is rather weak on the issue of how it will address the challenge of transformation of the systems of innovation with respect to social inclusion and sustainability.

In the latest Indian Science Congress held in Kolkata from 3-7 January 2013, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh presented a new science, technology and innovation (STI) policy which claims to “bring fresh perspectives to bear on innovation in the changing context”. The STI policy aims to focus simultaneously on the twin challenges of increasing the number of “people for science” and of combining “the benefits of excellence and relevance” to grow “science for people”. The first challenge has been made necessary by the recognition of the fact that India is now lagging behind China in the creation of manpower for science and technology (S&T) and in the making of investment in research and development (R&D) and innovation. The second challenge is presumably a response of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to the unease developing with the income inequality and issues related to access to food, education, health and employment in the country. The policy seeks the delivery of “solutions to address the pressing national challenges of energy and food security, nutrition, affordable healthcare, environment, water and sanitation and above all employment” from India’s STI system.

The policy seeks to direct the STI enterprise to achieve inclusive innovation; it suggests that India’s STI-led developmental efforts will have to aim at faster, inclusive and sustainable growth. The policy suggests that India’s global competitiveness will be determined by the extent to which “social good and economic good” can be maximised through innovation. As a policy goal the STI policy commits to focus on the creation of a new pathway of Science, Research and Innovation System for High Technology-led path for India (SRISHTI). The policy proposes that “science and technology for the people” will be the new paradigm of the Indian STI enterprise. The Indian society will have to “emerge as the major stakeholder for the national STI system”. In the new paradigm “the STI policy would develop a symbiotic relationship with economic and other policies to drive investment in STI to provide for socio-economic benefits to a wide cross section of society”.

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