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Report of the Steering Committee on S&T for XIth Five Year Plan – (2007-2012)

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Geographic Coverage
 
India
Date of documents publication
 
02/02/2006
Name of Authors/organisation responsible:
 
Steering Committee on S&T, Planning Commission, under the Chairmanship of Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India with Prof. V.L. Chopra, Member, Planning Commission as Co-Chairman.
Other organisations involved:
 
consultative mechanism
Keywords
 
planning in science and technology,Five Year Plans,Future of Science and Technology
What is the document type?
 
Official Government policy document: discussion / strategy document
Other
Purpose/Rationale
 

India adopted a Five Year Planned development process after its independence from the early 1950s. So far, the country had gone through the process of ten Five Year Plans. Currently, India is going through the process of the XIth Five Year Plan covering the period 2007 -2012. The process of including a chapter on science and technology in the national planning was in practice present from the First Five Year Plan. A national Steering Committee on S&T was formed in February 2006 to review the status of S&T in the country and suggest appropriate recommendations to the Five Year Plan document. This Steering Committee was Chaired by Dr. R. Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Adviser to Government of India with Prof. V.L. Chopra, Member, Planning Commission as Co-Chairman. This Steering Committee was pinpointed with the task to develop an approach on S&T for the XIth Five Year Plan and to suggest plans and programmes for the S&T sector. The purpose and rationale of this exercise was to suggest the main thrust on S&T in the national planning process. Some key elements of the purpose of constituting the Steering Committee are as follows as given in the report:

1. To evolve a vision and develop an approach for Science and Technology for the XIth Five Year Plan in the light of global developments and the country’s needs.
2. To make an analytical assessment (SWOT) of the performance of schemes and programmes pursued by Central S&T Departments.
3. To identify thrust areas for the XIth Five Year Plan and suggest their inter-se priorities.
4. To suggest ways by which inter-agency and inter-institutional collaborations are leveraged for higher efficiencies and better outcomes.
5. To suggest means of catalyzing Industry-Academia collaborations for development, application and flow of technologies from lab to the market place and for the industry to invest more in strengthening national level S&T infrastructure.
6. To recommend strategies for developing high quality S&T human resource including attracting the bright to a rewarding career in science.
7. To suggest strategies for expanding and strengthening societal applications of technologies for improving the quality of life of the Indian population.
8. To suggest measures for kindling innovative spirit so that scientists translate R&D leads into scalable technologies which yield wealth generating products and processes.
9. To identify areas of international S&T cooperation or collaboration and setting up of world class R&D facilities in the country with participation from other countries.
10. To suggest parameters for scientific audit and performance measurement of scientists and scientific institutions to inject efficiencies and maximize impacts.
11. To suggest plans and programmes for the various Central S&T Departments based on the policy, vision, approach, thrust and priorities of the S&T Sector. These should take into consideration the concept of Zero-based budgeting, convergence of ongoing schemes, weeding out of the schemes which are no-longer relevant and completion of ongoing schemes on a priority basis.
12. The Chairman may constitute Working Groups or Sub-groups as considered necessary and co-opt members for specific inputs.
What is/are the rationale/s of the document or its purposes served?
 
Define a strategy or plan for future actions
Define priorities
To whom is the document primarily addressed?
 
Government
Research community
Policy context
 

The document of the Steering Committee is given utmost importance as it included almost all the stakeholders in the S&T system of the country. As the earlier experience and past policy tradition indicates, the suggestions and recommendations of the Steering Committee are given due space in the formal and final national policy planning document. The Steering Committee document itself provided the basis on which it sought to embark on report as the documents observes, ‘that the development in S&T should not be treated in isolation. It should be in tune with the nation’s aspirations. Any new approach would call for much faster growth of GDP, doubling of exports and much faster growth of agriculture and education. India is not first in any field and such a situation should not continue for long. Therefore, our attempt should be to become first in a few of the chosen fields whether it is in agriculture or in export or in certain sectors of technology (Biotechnology, Nanotechnology) or in industrial field. In such areas the role of S&T should be defined and vigorously pursued’. The current S&T Steering Committee document assumes considerable importance as government did not come out with a fresh S&T Policy Statement after 2003 that is after nearly four years in a rapidly changing global environment for S&T in the country.

Further the introductory statement draws the attention to the very context of S&T component of the national planning process. As the document observes, ‘Scientific research, technological developments are crucial factors in the growth and development of a nation. Over the years, there have been serious concerns raised about Indian science not being able to attract bright young science students. The status of research and education in the university system and the contributions they make to research and development is an area that requires urgent attention. The process of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation has lent a complex dimension to the expansion of education, the degree of professionalism and the nature of employment. The growth of career opportunities in the emerging fields like the IT, biotechnology, manufacturing technology, management and law, where the level of specialisation is at the graduate level, have seriously hampered the recruitment and retention of students and scholars in the fields of basic science disciplines like mathematics, physics, chemistry and biology. Given the range of problems involved with the development of S&T in the nation, it is important to take stock of the situation and develop strategies and plan to address them. It is important to find ways and means of strengthening the S&T system and also make efforts to provide synergies between S&T infrastructure and industry to tackle key issues affecting S&T’.
Indicators
 

The document is based on quantitative data and information of the previous formal documents on S&T of the previous plans. For instance the document recommends that India should invest at least 2% of GDP in R&D (current level of 1.1%).


What are the main types of indicators used?
 
Economic and financial
Sectorial data (industry, services, trade)
Science and technology
Website in original language
Website in English
Policy priorities
 

The document clearly states that 'S&T should not be treated in isolation. It should be in tune with the nation’s aspirations. Any new approach would call for much faster growth of GDP, doubling of exports and much faster growth of agriculture and education. India has not been able to advance to attain the position of top five to top ten at the world level in any field of advanced technologies or other sectors of economy. Therefore, India's attempt should be to come in top five or ten in a few of the chosen fields whether it is in agriculture or in export or in certain sectors of technology (Biotechnology, Nanotechnology) or in industrial field. In such areas the role of S&T should be defined and vigorously pursued'. As the document clearly spells out, the key issues in such a development process for S&T include the following:

1. The entire system has to be geared to be alive to the role of S&T. The mindset has to be changed in various administering and evaluation systems to focus on timely inputs/outputs rather than the processes and minimisation of inputs. There has to be time accountability of the managers and administrators besides financial accountability by scientists.
2. There is an urgent need for improving the existing S&T infrastructure in order to accelerate economic growth and to derive social benefits. While considerable amount of such up-gradation and expansion will take place through major investment by industry including foreign ones, there are areas of S&T, which can considerably enhance availability of infrastructure and its quality. This is an area in which S&T should play a dominant role.
3. Many of the programmes/activities relating to S&T fall within the purview of socio-economic ministries. Therefore it is essential that the existing level of interaction between the S&T system and the socio-economic ministries do not continue on the same mode, reports the Steering Committee on Science and Technology for the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12). So far interactions occured on a limited scale through a few projects and through a few technology projects on mission mode. The latter have enhanced considerably the involvement of socio-economic ministries. Multipartnership projects between socio-economic ministries and S&T departments/institutions and industry should be a welcome step.
4. In addition to having quantitative and qualitative expansion of the mission mode and multipartnership projects, the socio-economic ministries should also set apart a definite percentage of their overall budget as a matter of policy for technology related development as suggested in the “Science & Technology Policy 2003”. It is not necessary to transfer these funds to S&T institutions or S&T departments. It is for the socio-economic ministries to make an overall S&T plan, and encourage R&D in key sectors of infrastructure. Such programmes on R&D, technology up-grade and development may be done even by industries and/or non-governmental organisations; S&T institutions may also participate in them. The key is to increase the demand of the socio-economic ministries for indigenous S&T efforts. They should set the pace of technology up-grade and development in key sectors. The management of funds will be under the overall control of the socio-economic ministries and no diversion of the earmarked funds for S&T should be done by them, except with the explicit approval of the Planning Commission. This will ensure the targets and the quantified goals could be achieved by the socio-economic ministries by themselves taking command of the S&T projects.
5. In the coming years, emphasis on clean technologies will increase. In order to face such emerging future challenges, without being reactive, the S&T programmes would need to have a goal of having zero toxicity, zero environmental impact, etc., in general, having an orientation for full eco-friendliness.
6. In the health sector various crucial issues relating to epidemiology and disease surveillance; clinical trials require special attention with special reference to reemerging as well as new or emerging diseases. Research infrastructure in these areas would have to be provided by organisations. It is also essential to build infrastructure (including human resources) for evaluation of new products including diagnostic kits, products of biotechnology drugs (including vaccines) and various devices (including contraceptives). This is particularly important in view of the advances in the field of biotechnology and healthcare, Nanotechnology, and the new ones expected in the coming 5 to 10 years.
7. There is a need to strengthen surveys of various nature like Survey of India, Geological Survey of India, Botanical Survey of India, Ocean Surveys, etc., in order to sustain the national resources. Similarly, there should be strengthening of National Resource Bureaus like National Bureau of Plant Genetic resources, Animal Genetic Resources and Fish Genetic Resources who are involved in conservation and planned enhancement and utilisation of agro bio-diversity.
8. S&T system includes the infrastructure, human resources, programmes and methods of functioning. There is a clear need to restructure and reengineer most of these to meet the challenges of the XIth Plan and subsequent periods. It is well recognised that it is not an easy task as it involves overall issues like changes with mindsets, changes in various rules and methods of functioning.
9. There could be a few experiments of initiating a few joint projects with international companies and their R&D centres in India and based on this experience the country's future course of action can be decided on such projects.
10. There is a crisis in human resource management in the S&T system. Human resource development and motivation are the key issues in addition to re-engineering, reconstructing and empowering of institutions/personnel. These are also necessary for qualitative growth as distinct from quantitative growth. These call for bold experiments with a backing from the highest level. The entire area of science education and research, with focus on human resources, needs to be at the top of the agenda in the XIth Plan.
11. It may also be essential to have a few new S&T institutions with new culture and motivation; they should have elements of long-term sustainability even at the time of starting.
12. Research should be carried out on mission mode rather than on discipline mode. Time has come to introduce the concept of “Directed Research”. In this process, partnerships between departments, clientele, industry, users should be institutionalised. Multicentric projects would be a norm for large projects. There may also be a few smaller projects, which are usually open ended, and individual based.
13. In the restructuring exercise, the role of applications of S&T in the States is of vital importance. There is a need to increase the demand from the State governments and their agencies for S&T inputs and to facilitate generation of joint programmes with industry, NGO’s, etc. Central Government agencies should also facilitate easy flow of S&T personnel to implement State Government tasks/programmes. The administrative/financial packages available in State Governments for S&T personnel should be made attractive. The recent discussions between SAC-PM and various State S&T Councils are important. The recommendations would be sent to the Planning Commission.
14. The resource for S&T is a complex issue. There is a merit in considering quantitative targets of inputs at macrolevel such as the national expenditure on S&T being raised to at least 2 %of GDP. However, it is also realised that this cannot be through the Government budgetary support alone. While Government’s role in supporting basic research, technology development and application, as well as for S&T infrastructure should continue and also be considerably enhanced, efforts need to be made to elicit support and financial resources from the private sector. Time has come, where industry needs to join hands with the government to enhance the prestige and image of the country, internationally, in the field of science and technology.
 
The Steering Committee underscored the need for a separate structure for administering the S&T system in the country as already been recognised in the XIth Plan approach paper of the Planning Commission wherein the setting up of a National Science and Technology Commission has been proposed. The Commission will be responsible for matters related to S&T in the country.
 
Main Policy Priorities
1.1.1 Strategy policy documents (official documents, policy consultation papers, green or whith papers, Operational Programmes of Structural Funds)
Other Policy Priorities
2.1.1 Policy measures concering excellence, relevance and management of research in Universities
2.1.2 Public Research Organisations
2.1.4 Research Infrastructures
Targeted research and technology fields
 
No specific thematic focus
Correspondent name
 
Venni Krishna
Document Date
 
25/09/2011

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