For Make in India, Invent in India

Source– The post is based on the article “For Make in India, Invent in India” published in “The Indian Express” on 15th September 2023.

Syllabus: GS2 – Government policies related to human resource – skill development

Relevance- Issues related to scientific research in India

News– The article explains the recent efforts by the Indian government to promote scientific research and suggest solutions to promote scientific research in the country.

What are efforts made by the government to promote scientific research?

The government has acknowledged the need for a significant overhaul of the infrastructure for generating patents. There is a concerted effort to streamline and expedite the process of filing and obtaining patents.

Recent bilateral agreements in the field of science and technology, particularly with the United States, demonstrate that the government is correctly identifying strategic priorities in this crucial sector.

The government has established the National Research Foundation (NRF). 

What is the way forward to promote scientific research in India?

Human capital- The most significant factor for running institutions should be the merit and quality of human capital.

Bureaucrats and administrators tend to prioritize numerical metrics. But, scientific research is governed by Lotka’s law, where the top few leaders in a specific field hold paramount importance.

Quantity cannot replace quality. India must focus on both retaining its top talent within the country and positioning itself as an attractive destination for talent from overseas.

The mindset of seeking remittances from abroad should be replaced with an approach focused on creating value.

Collaboration between laboratories and academia- One of the fundamental shortcomings of science policy has been the nearly complete segregation of teaching and research. Research facilities and centers within a wide range of scientific institutions are spread throughout India.

Many government laboratories have the potential to establish structured partnerships with universities and collaborate with on-campus science parks. It can further extend their involvement into the industrial sector.

The objective should be to unite teaching and research through a merit-based admission system.

Funding strategy- India should adopt a funding strategy for research that resembles a barbell. It should be a combination of high-impact, high-yield projects that receive financial support from a consortium of government agencies and industry.

The Design-Linked Incentive (DLI) program is an example of it. It aims to support high-reward innovation in partnership with high-tech businesses, with specific funding allocated to the India Semiconductor Mission for semiconductor design.

Moonshot research initiatives are known for their high risk and the potential for enormous rewards. It often originates from individual researchers.

Government should bear responsibility for funding such ambitious endeavors. But, it’s also important to encourage innovative and entrepreneurial scientists to seek additional financial support from the industry.

Cultural transformation- It is imperative within the realm of Indian science. Decision making is influenced by science bureaucrats who rely on subject-matter experts in academia.

Unfortunately, this group is resistant to necessary changes that might disrupt the existing status quo.

The long-term success of Indian science will ultimately depend on the caliber and motivations of the individuals engaged in it.

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