Modern India has had a strong focus on science and technology, realising the fact that it is a key element of economic growth. Significantly, India is among the topmost countries in the world in the field of scientific research and has positioned itself as among the top five nations in the field of space exploration. It has been regularly undertaking space missions to the moon and the famed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C26, successfully launched IRNSS-1C, the third satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), on October 16, 2014, from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. This is the twenty seventh consecutively successful mission of PSLV.
There has also been a lot of focus on encouraging the scientific temperament in India’s youth with the setting up of numerous technical universities and institutes, both in the private and the government sector. India presently has 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), 162 universities awarding about 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees, and about 40 research laboratories run by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) all over the country.
India is among the top 10 nations in the world in the number of scientific publications. Position-wise, it is ranked 17th in the number of citations received and 34th in the number of citations per paper across the science and technology field (among nations publishing 50,000 or more papers). It is also ranked ninth globally in the number of scientific publications and 12th in the number of patents filed.
Backed by the government, there has been a lot of investments and developments in different sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, space research and nuclear power through scientific research. For instance, India is gradually becoming self-reliant in nuclear technology through the commercial success of the indigenous reactors like the Dhruva reactor at BARC, which achieved criticality on August 8, 1985.
According to the latest available statistics by the Government of India, the Indian investment in science and technology in terms of Gross expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) during 2011-12 has been US$ 36.2 billion Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).
India invested 0.88% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards Research and Development (R&D) whereas USA and South Korea spent 2.76% and 4.04% respectively during 2011-12.
- India and the United Kingdom have agreed to scale up their bilateral research & innovation relationship to a greater level. In a meeting held between Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science & Technology, and the UK’s Minister for Universities, Science and Cities the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, it was decided that a new be known as the Newton-Bhabha Fund worth £ 50 million (US$ 77.76 million) will be taken to further the relations.
- MOL, world's largest ship operator with over 900 ships, has in partnership with an Indian company setup a cutting edge simulation centre for training seafarers, and said it would step up the number of Indians recruited for its merchant navy. The initiative named marine advanced simulation training (MAST) centre is among the most advanced simulation centres in the world, and would be part of the ongoing efforts of MOL and its partner Synergy Group, a ship management firm with over 100 vessels under its management and MOL's partner in the initiative, to step up recruitment of seafarers from India.
- A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Earth System Science Organization-Ministry of Earth Sciences (ESSO-MoES) and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), USA was signed here in New Delhi last month for cooperation in Earth System Sciences. Dr Shailesh Nayak Secretary M/o Earth Sciences said on the occasion that since Weather and climate affects all our activities, this collaboration will act as a step to bring together academia and application scientists to come together
- Patna University, in its centenary decade, is planning to set up a number of study centres with a view to expanding its academic horizon and boosting up research activities. An announcement to this effect was made by PU vice-chancellor Y C Simhadri at the university's convocation held recently. To facilitate genetic research, the university has initiated steps for setting up a research centre on the pattern of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.
The Narendra Modi government will soon institute a nation-wide consultation process with a view to developing the first, publicly accessible Science and Technology policy. It will be called “Vision S&T 2020” and articulate the road ahead towards self-reliance and technological independence in the 21st Century.
In the Union Budget 2014-15, the following initiatives in the field of science and technology were taken:
- Setting aside an amount of Rs 100 crore (US$ 15.71 million) for ‘Agri-tech Infrastructure Fund’
- Identification of technology driven second Green Revolution with focus on higher productivity including ‘Protein revolution’ as a major area of focus
- Allocation of Rs 100 crore (US$ 15.71 million) for a new scheme ‘Ultra-Modern Super Critical Coal Based Thermal Power Technology
Some of the other government initiatives taken in the recent past are as follows:
- The Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Resources are collaborating through joint expert committee meetings, inter-ministerial consultations and delegations to articulate research and development priorities to come up with energy efficient and environment friendly technologies. Three multi institutional networked virtual Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centres on solar energy, second generation biofuels and building energy efficiency have been set up. The research carried so far has resulted in 72 publications in peer reviewed journals and a patent has also been filed.
- Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, has launched a joint Indo-Canadian science programme focusing on clean water technologies.
- India's leading research centers are seeking more scientific partnerships for the country's remote areas, particularly the northeastern states while working with the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA). CEFIPRA is India's first and France's one and only bilateral organization, committed towards the promotion of the collaboration between the scientific communities of the two countries across the knowledge innovation chain. The centre was established in 1987 and it receives financial support from the department of science and technology under the central government, and the foreign affairs ministry of France.
India is aggressively working towards establishing itself as a leader in industrialisation and technological development. There will likely be significant developments in the nuclear energy sector as India looks to increase its nuclear capacity. There is also an indication that nanotechnology will change the face of the Indian pharmaceutical industry. The agriculture sector will also see a major revamp with the government investing heavily for the technology driven Green Revolution. The Government of India, through the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy-2013, among other things, also aspires to position India among the top five scientific powers in the world.
Exchange rate used INR 1= 0.0157 as on December 26, 2014
References:Ministry of Finance, Press Information Bureau (PIB), Media Reports and Press Releases, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Department of Science and Technology