India has some 8 Science Departments all pursuing their own tracks and various agreements in science diplomacy. MEITy is also a major player. Coordination and synergy among these agencies plus the academic sector (INSA) , Private Sector, and funding and regulatory and outreach agencies such as MEA is essential. A coordinating mechanism for a whole of country approach to external science and technology engagement is needed.
While we need to have more science counselors abroad, we need to ensure that the foreign representations of DST, DRDO, DAE, and ISRO are properly coordinated and optimised. The process of selection of replacements of science counselors should start at least 9 months in advance of expected joining date, so that no gaps in coverage emerge. But in many countries we will not be able to have dedicated science counselors in place. In such cases the Indian Mission should designate an officer ( perhaps the Economic officer) to perform the tasks of a Science Counsellor (the US model) and he/she maybe given special guidance and instructions on how to perform this role (similar to guidelines for Commercial Representatives from the Commerce Department) . Each Ministry should have a nodal Scientific Officer to engage on STI matters of relevance to that Ministry’s activities and programmes ( UK model) .]
A simpler means would be to increase exchange programs involving school and college students, not post-grads or Ph.D scholars, with target nations on focussed topics. For this to happen, scientific temper needs to be instilled at the primary education level. Consequently a strong and broad teacher-base becomes desirable. In such a model, we first learn from others to gain strength and then play the game in a level playing field (the typical Purvapaksha style of the ancient times)