Focus on science and technology

  • IASbaba
  • August 18, 2022
  • 0
Science and Technology
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Context: As India celebrates 75 years of Independence, a higher standard of living is possible if India shifts its focus to science and technology.

  • India spends a meagre 0.7% of its GDP on research and development (R&D)
  • It needs to make some fundamental policy changes to facilitate the transition.

Such Transition should focus on

  • These include increasing the R&D budget to 4% of the nation’s GDP, ensuring that individual institutions implement processes to accommodate the large budget, encouraging individual entrepreneurs and linking science with society.

Strengthening infrastructure

  • First, spending 4% of the national GDP on R&D is required to drive science and innovation.
  • Israel and South Korea are prime examples that drive their respective economies by spending nearly 5% of their GDP on R&D.
  • However, an increase in the science budget to innovate must precede appropriate macro-level policy changes on how and where the money needs to be spent.
  • A part of this increase needs to be earmarked for building physical and intellectual infrastructure across the country, especially in the universities.
  • A first-class infrastructure must be accompanied by well-trained, globally competitive institutional administrators and processes.
  • Second, before any policy changes take effect, individual institutions must implement processes to accommodate the large budget.
  • This requires standardising procedures across institutions and borrowing the best practices from some global counterparts.
  • Inadequate staffing at funding agencies, lack of transparency in fund disbursal, lack of a rigorous international standard review and feedback process, excessive delay in fund disbursal, and an outdated appraisal system are holding our scientists back.
  • Part of the solution is to bring and implement best practices from the industry and some of the best-run science grant administrations abroad.
  • Third – Science for the masses
  • It is time to bring the fruits of science and technology closer to the masses.
  • There is no better way to do this than by promoting and facilitating individual entrepreneurs.
  • This has received increased attention from the government with many positive policy changes.
  • There are no better cradles for creative ideas than our university labs.
  • Fourth, a robust system to link the labs with the entrepreneurs to funnel innovative ideas, products, and solutions to our society needs to be in place.
  • To make this happen, the universities must encourage scientists to innovate and place standardised procedures to take ideas out of labs.
  • Entrepreneurship will only succeed in India if it is backed by a funnel of ideas and a liberal process of taking those ideas out of our university labs.

Where does India can raise funds for such reforms?

  • India cannot do that by taking money away from social infrastructure, rural development or important welfare schemes.
  • This is only possible if India cuts the defence budget.
  • No nation can claim to win wars in the 21st century with increased defence spending.
  • Even the mighty U.S., with an excess of $750 billion dollars in the defence budget, could not defeat the Taliban.
  • We must realise that the next generation of war is economic, not military, and only a science and technology-driven economy can prepare us for that.

Source: The Hindu


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