BENGALURU: The department of science and technology (DST) late on Thursday made public the draft of the new science, technology, innovation policy (STIP) which aims to transform the national STI landscape maintaining the delicate balance between fortifying India’s indigenous capacity and nurturing meaningful global interconnectedness.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for an ‘Atmanirbhar’ or self-reliant India as a central theme, the policy has proposed a host of new establishments and reforms through short-term, medium-term, and long-term mission mode projects that will build a nurtured ecosystem that promotes research and innovation.
Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, DST, told TOI: “The STIP will create and end-to-end science and technology ecosystem.”
India has had four national S&T policies before this: Scientific Policy Resolution, 1958 (SPR1958), Technology Policy Statement (TPS) 1983, STP2003, and STIP2013.
Among other things, the policy proposes creation of a National STI Observatory that will act as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem.
“It will encompass an open centralised database platform for all financial schemes, programmes, grants and incentives existing in the ecosystem. The Observatory will be centrally coordinated and organized in distributed, networked and interoperable manner among relevant stakeholders,” the draft reads.
Further, a Technology Support Framework will be created to facilitate a two-way approach of creating indigenous technology and indigenization of technology. A Strategic Technology Board (STB) will be constituted to act as a link connecting different strategic departments.
While it proposes various means to enhance science funding, the policy also hopes to marry traditional and modern S&T.
“An institutional architecture to integrate Traditional Knowledge Systems (TKS) and grassroots innovation into the overall education, research and innovation system will be established…Collaborations between grassroots innovators and scientists will be facilitated through joint research projects, fellowships and scholarships,” the policy envisages.
Private push & funding
The policy has mooted a Strategic Technology Development Fund (STDF) to incentivize the private sector and HEIs. Spin-off technologies resulting from the larger projects will be commercialized and used for civilian purposes.
Besides, each state will earmark a percentage of the state allocation for STI-related activities under a separate budget head. “Foreign MNCs will collaborate with domestic private and public sector entities on projects aligned to national needs and priorities,” it adds.
An STI Development Bank will be set up to facilitate a corpus fund for investing in direct long term investments in select strategic areas on various long and medium-term projects, commercial ventures, start-ups, technology diffusion and licensing etc.
“General Financial Rules (GFR) will be amended for large scale mission mode programmes and projects of national importance. Efficient disbursement, communication, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms (time-bound peer reviews along with technical and transactional audits) will be set up to support conducive investment,” the policy adds.
With a renewed impetus to mainstreaming of equity and inclusion within the STI ecosystem, an India-centric Equity & Inclusion (E&I) charter will be developed for tackling all forms of discrimination, exclusions and inequalities in STI leading to the development of an institutional mechanism.
It proposes an inclusive culture that’ll be facilitated through equal opportunity for women, candidates from rural-remote areas, marginalised communities, differently-abled, Divyangjans, irrespective of their socio-economic backgrounds.
“Proportionate representation of women in selection/ evaluation committees, addressing of ageism related issues and consideration of experienced women scientists for leadership roles and regular gender and social audits in academic and professional organizations. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community will be included,” the policy adds.