Science policy to boost journal access

News: The Government of India has released the Draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020.

Facts:

  • Prepared by: The policy is initiated jointly by the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor (Office of PSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • Aim: The policy aims to reorient Science Technology & Innovation (STI) in terms of priorities, sectoral focus and strategies.

Why India needs a new STI Policy now?

  • Since 2013 when the last policy was formulated, India made some unprecedented progress in STI.
  • STI in India is undergoing rapid transformation in recent years in terms of relevance, scope and scale
  • COVID-19 is likely to have short and medium term impact on STI Resources, Strategies and Priorities
  • Prime Minister gave a clarion call for achieving a “Atmanirbhar Bharat” that might need greater focus on development of indigenous technologies and encouragement to grass root level innovation
  • Rise of disruptive and impactful technologies and challenges, opportunities
  • Strongly connecting S&T to Innovation, Industry and Society

India’s Progress in STI in Recent Years:

  • India’s Gross Expenditure on R&D(GERD) has increased by more than 3 times during last 10 years
  • India’s per capita R&D expenditure at PPP got doubled in last 10 years
  • India is ranked at 3rd Position in terms of no of publications in SCI journals (5th in 2014)
  • Women participation in R&D got doubled in last 6 years
  • India is the 3rd Largest Higher Education System of the world. It is positioned 3rd in terms of No of Startups (~32,000) and ranked 9th rank in terms of Resident Patent filing.
  • India is ranked 48th in terms of Global Innovation Index (from 81st position in 2015).
  • India has moved up by 79 places in the last 6 years in its World Bank Global Ranking in Ease of Doing Business (from 142nd to 63rd).

Key Features of the STIP Policy:

Open Science

  • A National STI Observatory as a central repository for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem
  • INDSTA (Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research) – a dedicated portal to provide access to the outputs of all publicly-funded research (including manuscripts, research data, supplementary information, research protocols, review articles, conference proceedings, monographs, book chapters, etc.).
  • Open Data Policy for Publicly Funded Research – All data used in and generated from public-funded research will be available to everyone under FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) terms.
  • One Nation, One Subscription: The Government will negotiate with journal publishers for a “one nation, one subscription” policy whereby, in return for one centrally-negotiated payment, all individuals in India will have access to journal articles.

Capacity Development

  • Research Excellence Framework for HEIs in India(REFI) will be evolved for research assessment to secure the continuation of a holistic, dynamic and responsive research base across the full academic spectrum within India’s higher education ecosystem.
  • Creation of ‘Engaged Universities’ to the needs of the community by conducting interdisciplinary projects involving scientific and technological and social science-based interventions.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship centres will be established at regional levels in a collaborative approach with the participation of local Academic and R&D institutions, industries, MSMEs, Startups, etc.

Financing STI

  • Expansion of the STI Funding Landscape: Each department/ministry in the central, the state and the local governments, public sector enterprises, private sector companies and startups to set up an STI unit with a minimum earmarked budget to pursue STI activities.
  • Each State to earmark a percentage of the state allocation for STI-related activities under a separate budget head.
  • Foreign Multinational Companies (MNCs) – Partnerships and collaborations with domestic private (SMEs and start-ups) and public sectors entities (HEIs and research organizations) to work on projects aligned to national needs and priorities.
  • Incentivisation for STI investments: Boosting fiscal incentives for industries investing in STI through incremental R&D based tax incentives, tax credit for investing in facilities for commercialization, tax holidays, tax waivers, target-based tax incentive for specific domains, tax deduction, expatriate tax regimes, remodeling of patent box regime etc.

Research

  • Joint appointments across government, academia and industry at both the national and the international levels will be facilitated to attract the best talent into the research ecosystem.
  • Research solutions should address solutions for different regions/ socio-economic strata including a focus on rural problems in the country.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship: An institutional architecture for integrating traditional knowledge systems (TKS) and grassroots innovation into the overall education, research and innovation system.

Technology Development and Indigenization

  • Indigenous Development of Technology: Indigenous technologies will be promoted even if better technologies exist internationally. Key products or components imported by Indian companies for their manufacturing plants will be identified and a provision will be made to fund such product-based R&D with industry-academia collaborations
  • Technology indigenization: To strengthen India’s local R&D capabilities in the production of technologies that are largely being imported, infrastructure will be set up and existing mechanisms will be strengthened to adapt existing technologies to suit the local needs.
  • Sustainable Technology Push: Policy push for development and deployment of sustainable technologies to address major socio-economic challenges and changing aspirations of the people.
  • Set up a Strategic Technology Board(STB) to act as a connecting bridge between different strategic departments and to monitor and recommend technologies to be bought or indigenously made in the strategic departments or in private sector or in academic institutions in line with self- reliant India.
  • Set up a Strategic Technology Development Fund(STDF) to encourage the private sector and HEIs to develop strategic technologies. STDF to be managed by the independent body STB to avoid conflict of interest.

Equity and Inclusion

  • Institutionalising Equity and Inclusion: An Indian Centric E&I Charter will be developed for tackling discriminations in STI, based on gender, caste, geography, language, disability and other exclusions and inequalities.
  • Ageism-related issues and minimisation of career breaks are to be addressed for effective retention of trained women into the STI workforce. In this case, all professional career milestones, such as recruitment, awards and funding schemes, age cut-offs will be implemented considering academic age rather than biological/physical age.

Science Communication and Public Engagement

  • Capacity Building and Research: Creative and cross-disciplinary platforms of Science Communication will be promoted to enable dialogue and knowledge transfer between researchers, science communicators and the public.
  • Community-centric programmes and regional science centres will be encouraged to promote science communication in regional languages with local and hyper-local contexts for last-mile connectivity.
  • Mainstreaming Science Communication: Every public-funded institution and department will have a dedicated wing set-up for science communication and public engagement in STI-related activities.

International STI Engagement

  • Engagement with Diaspora: Fellowships and internships schemes and research opportunities in India will be expanded and widely promoted across different ministries to attract diaspora.An engagement portal exclusively for Indian scientific diaspora will be created (e.g, Pravasi Bharatiya Academic and Scientific Sampark- PRABHAS).
  • Proactive STI Diplomacy Strategy: International Knowledge Centres, preferably Virtual, will be established to promote global knowledge and talent exchange by creating avenues such as visiting fellowships, joint research schemes, training programmes, invited lectures etc.

STI Governance

  • An inter-sectoral, inter-ministerial national level STI Governance mechanism will be set up at the highest level, for building synergy and improving coordination among various ministries/ departments/ organizations to strengthen the national STI ecosystem.
  • Standardized Research and Innovation Excellence Frameworks (RIEF) based on international benchmarks, will be formulated to ensure cohesive and transparent evaluation of all kinds of research and innovation.
  • A suitable metric will be developed to evaluate and recognize the outcome and impact of research activities with respect to its direct relevance to Indian needs, while continuing to maintain international comparability.
  • An STI Policy Institute with a strong national and international connect, will be established with a mandate to serve all aspects of STI policy governance.

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