Our scientific experiment
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Of all the nations that got freedom from the colonial powers in the 20th century, India had the most progressive leadership, not only in political thinking but also in science and technology. Almost everyone admires and appreciates Jawaharlal Nehru's passion for science and technology, both for the economic well-being of the country and for deepening secular values through the development of a scientific temper. Fortunately, all those who have followed him have more or less been benevolent towards science and technology. However, a passionate approach towards advancing science and technology has been missing among the political class, policy-makers and science-technology practising community. That is why, in spite of a visionary start, we are still struggling to be counted as a big science and technology nation.
In general, we are people with a quasi-feudal mentality. Hierarchies are more important to us than passion for knowledge. Rituals and superstitions come more naturally to us than a scientific temper.Although the scientific community will claim to be more progressive than society at large, a quest for exclusivity, a bureaucratic disposition and comfort with mediocrity are hallmarks of India's science and technology community. There is a deep sense of inferiority to western science, although there is a general lack of desire to follow the good practices of science and technology management in the western countries.
The Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy 2013, authored by the ministry of science and technology and released at the 100th Indian Science Congress in Kolkata, unfortunately reflects all these propensities. It is a tepid document, full of wishes and desires, but it hardly describes any structural or procedural changes which will achieve the grand goal of integrating science, technology and innovation to create value in an inclusive manner. The declaration lists 12 points to capture India's aspirations in STI — promoting the spread of scientific temper; enhancing skills; making careers in science, research and innovation attractive; establishing world-class infrastructure and gaining global leadership in select frontier areas; making India among the five top global scientific powers; enhanced private-sector participation in research and development (R&D) and converting it into applications through a PPP model; seeding science and technology based high-risk innovations. All of these aim to create a robust national innovation system.