To ensure a wide-ranging consultation process for the country’s fifth science, technology and innovation policy (STIP 2020), the union science minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday inaugurated an interactive session with thought leaders and a web portal seeking inputs from people. The minister urged the stakeholders and the people of the country as well as those living abroad to participate in the process of developing the bottom-up policy to support the rapidly changing science, technology and innovation ecosystem.
“The entire science, technology and innovation ecosystem has undergone rapid transformation in terms of relevance, scope, and scale in the recent years. These must be captured into a policy to develop a long development trajectory and vision for the country. Moreover, Covid-19 has introduced some new learning and added dimensions to the STI system,” he said.
With the Prime Minister calling for an Atmanirbhar Bharat, the minister said that there was a greater need to focus on the development of indigenous technologies and encourage grassroots level innovation.
“For the last six years, the departments of sciences have been working on enhancing the quality and relevance of science and technology, translating the science to innovation that will reach the society, connecting the whole ecosystem – academia, industry, start-ups, and aligning science to national priorities. Currently, Covid-19 and other areas such as water, energy, waste processing are challenges of the future. STIP 2020 will be an overarching policy to guide this,” said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, department of science and technology in the first ‘in conversation with’ series.
The STIP 2020 will follow the core principles of being decentralised, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive.
“India’s first science policy came in 1958 that focussed on promoting a scientific temperament in the country, the second one in 1983 came when India was denied technologies after Pokhran and aimed at making the country technologically self-reliant, the third came in 2003 and for the first time focussed on connecting science and technology to the society. The fourth policy came in 2013 during the international decade of innovation,” said Dr Akhilesh Gupta, head of the STIP secretariat.
“Although the last two had some bottoms up approach and wider consultations, the 2020 policy will be completely decentralised and focus on the five core principles or the pillars,” he said.
The STIP 2020 formulation policy has been divided into four interlinked tracks. Track-I involves extended public and expert consultation and creates a repository of voices; Track-II will focus on experts-driven thematic group consultations for evidence-informed recommendations. For this, 21 thematic groups with over 150 experts have already been constituted. Track-III connects ministries, departments, and States/UTs to create regional ecosystems and action plans. Track-IV will integrate inputs from all the tracks and engage stakeholders at national and global levels.
“In the new policy, people will need to contribute. It has to be people centric – look around us and discuss with people how to best use science and tech to find solutions to their problems. Even a layman can sometimes give the best of solutions. The policy will help us in blending research and development with indigenous thinking. There are already so many things delivered within labs but in the journey from labs to industry and to the people at affordable prices there are bottlenecks,” said Harsh Vardhan.