Articles Perspectives

Charting the new development agenda through Science, Technology and Innovation

Imagine, the headlines of today’s newspapers announce the discovery of a new vaccine to combat COVID-19. This would bring much relief to the ongoing situation and hopefully put an end to all the misery on account of the pandemic and the socio-economic hardships that ensued. While the government is making sincere efforts to come up with a breakthrough solution, it would take some time for the vaccines to be produced and distributed. However, for all this to happen, the ecosystem for science, technology and innovation (STI) needs to be thriving. Ironically, system transformation is a gradual process and  cannot happen overnight like an announcement as above.

Fast forward to 2040, we may be facing a similar situation. Hopefully, we would be better equipped and more resilient to tackle any such outbreaks or any other eventualities. In order to ensure such preparedness, we are better equipped, the STI ecosystem will play a critical role and the seeds are to be sown now for an agile, resilient, inclusive and sustainable future.

It is in this backdrop, the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser (PSA) to the Government of India and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India has taken up the daunting task of formulating the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020. The policy process is bottom-up, decentralised, expert-driven, evidence-informed and inclusive, with a wide range of multi-stakeholders consultations. It realigns national priorities, sectoral focus and highlights frameworks for research, technology development and innovation, for societal good.

Since independence, India has made four science policies, this is the fifth such policy for India after the Science Policy Resolution 1958, Technology Policy Statement 1983, Science and Technology Policy 2003, and the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy in 2013.

The overall policy formulation process has been planned under four different tracks. Track I is the process of gathering inputs through public and expert consultation. Track II has 21 thematic groups, involving consultations from experts of various areas of science, technology and innovation for evidence-informed recommendations. Track III involves consultations with Ministries and States through nominated nodal officers, for extensive intra-state and intra-department consultation. The last track (IV) is the binding force that draws upon the apex-level multi-stakeholder engagement, at the national and global levels.

Within Track I, there are six different activities that are envisaged to gather inputs from the  public and experts. The activities have been planned to engage, involve and empower every individual, to have a voice in the formulation of  the new STI policy. Here are the six activities under Track I:

  • Engage with Members of Parliament, policy scholars, entrepreneurs, business leaders or researchers while we are ‘In Conversation With The floor is open for your comments and questions that will be addressed during the 15 such conversations that will also be live streamed on YouTube.
  • The branches of science have a vast expanse. It covers health (how can we forget COVID-19), climate (remember the unexpected rainfalls and overarching, never-ending summers), resources like water, food, sustainability, just to name a few. As experts delved into the complexities of these evolving and expanding horizons of science across sixteen thematic panel discussions, your suggestions, comments and questions would enrich the process. Watch all discussions here: https://bit.ly/stip-2020-across-the-table
  • India is a diverse nation. Keeping in mind our population in numbers, strength and diversity, a survey called “Policy Compass’ is there to steer the direction of the policy towards what people want it to be by getting views from different sections of the society , and help the government understand what people want. And yes, one can have a perspective no matter what professional background or level they have. These are tailored surveys for different categories of people across languages. Go here to participate in the survey: https://bit.ly/stip-2020-policy-compass
  • For those who love to pen your thoughts, write an ‘Open Letter’ showcasing your views for the world of science around you without any language barriers. By writing in one’s native language, one can put forward their vision for our Science Policy. Do send it across to this email: indiawritesforstip@gmail.com
  • Good morning India! Engage and know about Science Policy on radio. Listening is one of the best qualities. If you have this, you can contribute as well in conversations on radio in ‘Thoughts for India’. Just tune into your local radio channel and knit a blueprint for science. Stay tuned to listen to the ‘Thoughts for India’ here: https://bit.ly/stip-2020-thoughts-for-India
  • Last, but not least, as they say, ‘an idea can change your life’ here, your idea can change the way science functions around you’ and you could be rewarded too. Switch on your antennas and share your ideas through the ‘Ideathon.’ Give wings to your creative side as there is no limitation in form or language to provide your inputs in this Ideathon. Log on to https://bit.ly/stip-2020-ideathon and submit your idea today!

While there are many instances where policy formulation have typically taken shape in the corridors of power, the STIP 2020 takes an alternative and uncharted path, bringing optimism and hope to build a resilient and self-reliant India. Join us in this endeavour and have your say. Stay tuned by keeping a tab on this website for more information here: https://bit.ly/stip-2020

About the author

H.S Sudhira

H.S Sudhira

Sudhira has a PhD from the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru. He has established and leads Gubbi Labs, a private research collective that works on a host of domains ranging from sustainable ecosystems to liveable settlements using trans-disciplinary approaches. He is a researcher and a neogeographer using and propagating free-and-open-source mapping tools, studying cities and ecosystems.

About the author

Zill-e-Anam

Zill-e-Anam

Zill-e-Anam is currently pursuing PhD in Directed Evolution and Codon Shuffling for the treatment of Malaria from Special Centre for Molecular Medicine, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. She loves to juggle between pipettes, proteins, and laptop keypad. When she is not on her lab workbench, she is experimenting with public engagement platforms like science communication and science policy. She is also an avid traveler.

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