- Science policies in India
- STIP 2020
- Framework for Research
- Pursuing AR and PAR
- Way Forward
Academic research is necessary, but not sufficient
For IASToppers’ Editorial Simplified Archive, click here
The Government of India is in the process of revisiting the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy. The policy will serve as a guideline to the agencies of government to fund research in higher education institutions and national laboratories. At this stage, we need to ponder the question: What kind of research should be funded?
Science policies in India:
- India drafted its first science policy in 1958 called the Scientific Policy Resolution, its focus was on scientific temper and capacity building.
- In 1983, India came up with the Technology Policy Statement, stressing on technological competence and self-reliance.
- The 2003 Science and Technology Policy called for increased investment in research and development.
- STIP 2013 called for science and technology-led innovation for socio-economic development.
- STIP 2020 is under development and is expected to be approved till the end of the year 2020.
Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020:
- STIP 2020 is a decentralized, bottom-up and inclusive design process.
- It aims to restrategize priorities, sectoral focus and methods of research and technology development for larger socio-economic welfare.
- The formulation process is organised into 4 highly interlinked tracks, which will reach out to around 15000 stakeholders for consultation in the policy formulation.
- Track I: Extensive public and expert consultation process through Science Policy Forum – a dedicated platform for soliciting inputs from larger public and expert pool during and after the policy drafting process.
- Track II: Experts-driven thematic consultations to feed evidence-informed recommendations into the policy drafting process.
- Track III: Consultations with Ministries and States.
- Track IV: Apex level multi-stakeholder consultation.
Framework for Research:
- NASA has proposed an approach in the form of Technology Readiness Levels (TRL).
- TRL is a type of measurement system used to assess the maturity level of a particular technology.
- TRL-1 corresponds to the observation of basic principles. Its result is publications.
- TRL-2 corresponds to the formulation of technology at the level of concepts.
- In the next stage, TRL framework advances to proof of concept, validation in a laboratory environment, followed by a relevant environment, and then to prototype demonstration, and ending with actual deployment.
Pursuing AR and PAR:
- Academic Research (AR) corresponds to TRL-1.
- Post-Academic Research (PAR) can be divided into early-stage PAR and late-stage PAR.
- AR and early-stage PAR can be done at higher education institutions and large laboratories.
- Late-stage PAR has to be done by large laboratories (national or those supported by industry).
- Both AR and PAR generate knowledge, but when examined from the perspective of national development, the pursuit of AR alone, while necessary, is not sufficient.
- The research being pursued in India is either not addressing national needs or is limited to AR.
- India needs to orient its priorities to address national needs and engage in both AR and early-stage PAR and provide inputs necessary to raise the technology intensity of the industry.
- For example, A research in electrochemistry can be accompanied by the development of battery technologies.
- The STI policy should emphasise PAR to ensure that investment in research results in economic growth.
- To motivate the research community to pursue at least early-stage PAR, the reward system needs significant reorientation from the present bibliometric indicators.
- The reward system in higher education institutions and national laboratories should be reoriented to promote PAR.
- The Academics in higher education institutions pursuing AR should pursue early-stage PAR themselves, or team up with those who are keen to pursue PAR.
- India’s investment in research is lower than that by advanced countries, and there is a need to decide where to increase investment: in AR or PAR.
- India should focus on industries that have high technology intensity, such as aircraft and spacecraft, medical, precision and optical instruments, and communication equipment which have a low presence.
The norms of industrial and academic research should be combined with collaboration, patronage and investment to develop a post-academic model. AR and PAR, when pursued together and taken to their logical conclusion, will result in a product or a process, or better clinical practice, or a scientifically robust understanding of human health and disease, or provide inputs for a policy decision.