India’s policy in the field of science and technology

The Development of Science and Technology in India has been an old phenomenon. The evidence of flourishing science and technology can be found in the various features of Indus Valley Civilization such as road and town planning, drainage structure etc., which shows the growth of Science and technology during that era. Science and technology also developed during the later period of Indian history. The Iron Pillar of Delhi which is rust free for the last 1600 years is a classic example of India's excellence in Science and Technology.

The present phase of the growth and development of Science and technology can be traced back to the British colonialism in India. Before India got independence in 1947, the Indian National Congress emphasized the importance of Science and technology and scientific planning.

At the time of independence, the technological infrastructure of India was not much developed and organized, and it was way behind the developed countries. India was technologically dependent on the skills and expertise of other countries. After independence, the five year plans focused on the development of Science and technology in India. Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru emphasized on education for promoting Science and Technology. He played a major role in the development of first Science and technology policy resolution in 1958.


The Science and Technology Policy Resolution 1958

  • Homi Bhabha drafted the scientific policy resolution 1958. This was the first policy on science and technology which mainly focused on basic research in various fields of science.

  • The policy aimed to develop the basic infrastructure for scientific research and development. The resolution called for encouraging individual initiative for acquisition and dissemination of knowledge to ensure some engagement of people with science and technology.

  • The main thrust of this policy resolution was to ensure capacity building in the field of science and technology as the foundation for further technological advancement in the country. The Policy was directed to “foster, promote and sustain” scientific research in almost every field of science.

  • The implementation of-of the scientific policy resolution 1958 led to the development of many organisations such as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958, the Department of Science and technology in 1971, Department of Space in 1972, Department of Environment in 1980 etc.


The Technology Policy Statement 1983

During the 1980s the import of front running technologies became difficult as the developed countries had refused to transfer technologies which were necessary for the economic growth of the country. The Government of India came up with the technology policy statement 1983 as a vision document which gave primacy to technology for the economic growth of the nation.


Aims and objectives

  • The major objective of this policy statement was to ensure the development of indigenous technologies along with the absorption and adaptation of imported technologies as per the national priorities and requirements.


Salient features of technology policy statement 1983

  • The policy statement recognised the importance of self-reliance as the heart of technological development. Different Agencies and departments were identified for the development of indigenous technologies. The trending technological base, research, and development along with education and training of higher order were given priority.

  • The technology policy recognised the importance of perspective planning in advance for the development of relevant technologies in all areas of priority.

  • It called for the use of science and technology for employment generation, fulfilling energy requirements, improving the efficiency and productivity of public sector enterprises, development of improved technologies for food, housing and industry, and for the development of environment friendly technologies etc.

  • The policy statement gave importance to the development of indigenous technology, inventions as the driving force behind the technological change. It called for enhancing the traditional skills and capabilities by advances in science and technology for rural development.

  • It gave importance to the upgradation of indigenous technologies to prevent their obsolescence. The policy gave preferential treatment for indigenously developed technologies along with ensuring the quality of products.

  • The policy statement gave sufficient importance to fiscal incentives for commercial exploitation of indigenous technologies. It called for giving appropriate incentives for in-house R&D units and for setting up R&D units in industries.

  • Though the policy was directed towards self-reliance and technological self-sufficiency, it also gave importance to technology acquisition through collaborative arrangements in research and development keeping in mind the national interest.

  • The policy statement called for technology transfer and diffusion of technologies through horizontal transfer, and technological support to smaller units from the large industrial units.

  • The policy directed for a concerted effort for technical cooperation among developing countries to ensure mutual national development.

  • The policy statement spelled out detailed guidelines for the Ministries, government agencies, industries and entrepreneurs for the implementation of this technology policy statement.


Science and Technology Policy 2003

The Government of India came up with the Science and technology policy 2003 at the beginning of new millennium 2000 to meet the changing needs of the 21st century.


Objectives of Science and Technology policy 2003

  • To ensure that the message of Science and technology reaches every Indian including women and children, and to promote scientific temper among them.

  • To utilize Science and technology for food, agriculture, environment, energy security, and poverty alleviation programmes.

  • To promote scientific research in academic Institutions and Universities, and provide them necessary autonomy for research and development.

  • To promote the empowerment of women in science and technology activities.

  • To accomplish security and strategic objectives through science and technology and its applications.

  • To encourage innovation for economic development and strengthen the enabling mechanism related to technological development. To establish an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) regime for the protection of intellectual property and it's commercialization.

  • To ensure the availability of high-speed access to information through scientific development in digital technologies.

  • To utilise the new technologies for the purpose of disaster management and for theprevention of natural hazards such as cyclones, floods, drought, landslides, and earthquakes etc.

  • To promote Science and technology in governance and public policy making.

To achieve these objectives essential specific plans, programs and projects with time bound targets were made. Clearly defined tasks, estimates of resources were made for the implementation of these projects and programs.


Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STI) 2013

In 2010, the Government of India declared 2010-20 as the “Decade of Innovation”. The Government of India proposed to synergize science technology and innovation to enunciate a policy and the National Innovation Council was established. To fulfill these objectives the Science Technology and Innovation (STI) policy 2013 was pronounced by the government. The STI Policy was released in the Indian Science Congress at Kolkata. The policy puts greater emphasis on innovation, establishing R&D institutes, and encouraging women scientists to put India among the top 5 scientific powers by 2020.


SRISHTI - Vision of STI policy 2013

SRISHTI- Science, Research and Innovation System for High technology led path for India. “ The guiding vision of aspiring Indian STI enterprise is to accelerate the pace of discovery and delivery of science-led solutions for faster, sustainable and inclusive growth”.


Key elements of science technology and innovation policy (STI) 2013

  • Promotion of scientific temper and its spread among all the sections of society.

  • Skill enhancement for the application of science among the youth.

  • Making careers in scientific research, innovation, and development attractive for attracting talented and bright minds.

  • Establishment of world class R&D infrastructure for gaining global leadership in selected areas of science.

  • To promote and enhance private sector participation in R&D and enabling its commercial applications.

  • Positioning India among top 5 scientific powers globally by 2020.

  • To link the scientific research and innovation with the agenda of inclusive economic growth and combining priorities of excellence and relevance.

  • Seeding the Science and technology based high risk innovations by adopting new mechanism and creating robust National Innovation System.

  • Promoting cost-effective and resource-optimized innovations across size and technology domains.

  • Fostering changes in the value system and mind set for recognising, respecting, and rewarding innovations and performances which create wealth from science and technology derived knowledge.


Investments in research and development

  • India's share in the total global investment in research and development is less than 2.5 %. India invests less than 1% of its GDP on R&D while the national goal is to increase the Gross Expenditure in Research and Development (GERD) to 2% of GDP.

  • India aims to achieve this goal in the next 5 years with private sector participation. The private sector needs to at least match the investment on R&D with the public sector.

  • Establishing national science, technology and innovation foundation as a public-private partnership (PPP) based initiative for promoting critical investments in innovative and ambitious projects.


Promoting excellence and relevance in R&D

  • Nourishing the talented youth and attracting them towards science and careers with research. Promoting the participation of women and gender parity in science technology and innovation activities.

  • Promoting Inter-University centers in different fields to enable the University researchers to access advanced research facilities and equipment.

  • Ensuring Indian participation in global R&D infrastructure and big science.

  • Performance Related Incentive Scheme (PRIS) based on the past and proven track record in research for grant based investments in R&D.


National agenda and science technology and innovation (STI) system

  • For promoting evidence-based policy actions, around 10 sectors having high impact potential will be identified for STI intervention and required resources would be provided. All essential policy instruments required for institutional research and R&D enterprises will be put in place.

  • R&D intensity in the service sector is to be enhanced considerably to expand the skill base.


Delivery systems for STI outputs to stakeholders and Society

  • Diffusion of scientific output and technology interventions in social systems requires the strengthening of linkages between them. The STI policy will achieve these R&D allocations through a shared vision, mission oriented approach and adoption of New Delivery models with provisions for accountability.


Ecosystem changes for science, technology, and innovation

  • For the purpose of IPR sharing between the inventors and investors regulatory and legal framework is to be put in place. Initiatives will be taken to close the gaps between new R&D findings and the commercial space.

  • Risk sharing by the government to increase the private sector investment in research and development activities.


Gaining Global competitiveness through collaboration

  • The science technology and innovation policy will seek to enable strategic partnerships and alliances with other countries through bilateral and multilateral cooperation in science, technology, and innovation.

  • Science diplomacy, technology acquisition models, and technology synergy will be deployed based on strategic relationships.


Public awareness and public accountability of Indian STI Sector

  • For promoting public awareness effective science communication methods through tools like the National Knowledge Network will be initiated. People and decision makers are to be made aware of the implications emerging from technologies and their social, economic and ethical dimensions.

  • For the assessment of the performance of national STI enterprise, an autonomous and robust evaluation system will be established.


Criticism of STI policy 2013

  • The STI policy aims to increase the investment in research and development by increasing the private sector investment in it. However, private sector investments in R&D are based on profitability rather than the delivery of social goods. For example, the private sector investment in R&D is more on men's hair loss medicines rather than on diseases like tuberculosis.

  • Indian private sector corporates do not invest much in research and development compared to their counterparts in developed countries. Thus being overconfident on private sector investments in research and development may not be fruitful.

  • The new science technology and innovation policy 2013 does not give a detailed roadmap to achieve its goals. The earlier policies have failed to achieve their goals and it won't be a surprise if the new policy also faces the same fate. In overall it can be said that the new STI policy is a set of wishes and desires rather than well-defined targets, strategies, and procedures.

  • The STI policy does not give much concern to issues like Brain drain which is negatively affecting research and development in India

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