Science, Technology, Innovative Policy (STIP) released by DST, Ministry of Sc and Tech: a Critics view
Disclaimer Note: This is our personal opinion and not to judge or criticise the competence of any individual or organisation
It Recently Department of Science and Technology has come up with the draft policy of Science, Technology and Innovative Policy (STIP) and have asked for suggestions of which today is the last date. Ruchir Sharma, the suave economist has famously predicted technology will decide who wins the race in the present century. (https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/28/opinion/china-trade-war-technology.html).
The draft policy is comprehensive, uses heavy words and phrases, very erudite with excellent academic class vocabulary and points and can be framed and put nicely in any library as an ideal policy framework for the records.
Coming after the New Education Policy (NEP) this is a very important and critical policy that combined with the NEP can change and transform the overall canvas of Indian academic and scientific gamut. The STIP says, “The new Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy aims to bring about profound changes through short-term, medium-term, and long-term mission mode projects by building a nurtured ecosystem that promotes research and innovation on the part of both individuals and organisations. It aims to foster, develop, and nurture a robust system for evidence and stakeholder-driven STI planning, information, evaluation, and policy research in India. The objective of the policy is to identify and address strengths and weaknesses of the Indian STI ecosystem to catalyse socio-economic development of the country and also make the Indian STI ecosystem globally competitive.”.
It boasts to place the STIP policy document ver 1.4 after a detailed 4 track process of consultations , involving nearly 300 rounds of consultations with more than 40,000 stakeholders well distributed in terms of region, age, gender, education, economic status, etc during last 6 months beginning from May 2020. . The STIP Secretariat was coordinated, supported, and guided by the Office of PSA, NITI Aayoga, and DST. The formulation process, by design, envisioned as a very inclusive and participative model with intense interconnectedness among different tracks of activities.
It covers everything under the sky to provide the required fillip to Indian scientific endeavours. So far so good. Its highly ambitious document and therefore it will be a challenge to implement such a comprehensive template.
But what we found missing is a clear time line for various projects, phases and initiatives of the policy. Without that it becomes almost difficult to visualise the changes that will place.
Second we are aware of the fact that DST the nodal agency for carrying out science and technology is heavily loaded and therefore human resources to carry out such a gigantic task can be another challenge. Considering the fact that time line has not been drawn there is a serious risk of the whole framework going waste if not worked out with top priority leaving other things aside.
We also feel that such tasks need a mission like environment ( see China for example which changed her science and tech scenario) whereby individuals and organisations can be given specific tasks and time line to implement them It is good to see that the document borrows some terms from the Chinese science and technology mission. For example, Technology development and innovation figure prominently in the current thirteenth five-year plan (2016-20). China’s National Medium- and Long-Term Program for Science and Technology Development (MLP), introduced in 2006, is an ambitious plan to transform the Chinese economy into a major center of innovation by the year 2020 and to make it the global leader in science and innovation by 2050.
Another point that the policy makers have to consider is about research or rather quality of research in the country and manpower available for the same. Again we will take cue from china, we know that the rise of science and in knowledge- and technology-intensive industries requires a growing R&D workforce. The share of China’s workforce active in public and private R&D was only 0.19 percent of total employment in 2013, considerably below the levels in the US (0.87 percent), EU (0.77 percent) or Japan (1.02 percent). But the Chinese score has been rising rapidly: its average annual growth rate between 2009 and 2013 was 11 percent (compared to 2 percent in the EU and no growth in Japan; NSF, 2016). Numbering about 1.5 million, China had in 2014 more full-time equivalent researchers in employment than the US (1.3 million), more than twice the number in Japan, and about 85 percent of the EU number 3 .
To conduct good research we have to make a paradigm shift the way we consider Phd students and the salary offered to them by Industry as well as educational institutes. We are into a vicious circle where we have been stuck. Since there is not much incentives /options available to doctoral candidates the quality and quantity of serious phd students is very less. The one who are doing are just to procure the degree as it is necessary to get promotions or even being eligible for academic posts. We don’t have the eco system to absorb serious Phd candidates from the country or those who have done from abroad. This is a serious anomaly that the ministry and policy makers have to think along with other ministry of education and stake holders .
Among PhD students, the Chinese represent by far the largest group of foreign PhD recipients in the US, taking 29 percent of all PhDs awarded to foreign students in 2013, representing about 7 percent of all PhDs awarded in the US. While the number of Chinese PhD students kept growing until 2009, it has since declined, although only slightly (by 3 percent) between 2009 and 2013 (NSF, 2016). This drop, although still small, might indicate the start of a trend for Chinese graduate students to substitute foreign PhDs with domestic PhDs.
ON the plus and positive side the document covers everything and we don’t have any complaint on it. But there are certain genuine weaknesses in the system which has to be addressed in a personalised and focused manner. Unless that is done all policies will just become excellent academic exercise without result on the ground. And that is ur only concerns.
Dr. Asheesh Shah