Today, 28th February, is the National Science Day. It commemorates the iconic achievement of Nobel laureate Sir CV Raman, who had discovered the famous Raman effect on this day. It is fitting therefore that while celebrating the strides that we as a country have made in the field of science and technology, we spell out how a new approach to science and technology policymaking has been behind some of the key landmarks that have been accomplished in this field in recent years.
Harnessing Science for Everyday Needs of the Common People
At the 106th session of the India Science Congress in the beginning of the year, when the PM exhorted the scientific community to connect with people and commit themselves to addressing problems ranging from affordable healthcare and housing to clean air, water, energy and agricultural productivity, he was impressing upon the need to utilise science for the most basic needs of common people. The invocation of big data analysis, artificial intelligence and blockchain for the aid of farmers with relatively small farm holdings by the Prime Minister implied that he was eager for the high technologies to cater to the lowest common denominator.
Stimulus to Technology Businesses
The fact that more technology business incubators have been established in the last four years than the forty years before that implies that the science and technology has entered a new era in the country. Not only there is greater attention to application of science away from theory, the coupling of science with business ensures the immediate and practical usage on the ground to the widest base of end-users.
Pre-emptive Time-Bound Solutions
While emphasising the need for delivery of technological solutions in a certain timeframe, PM has called for application of technology in spheres where time is of great essence, such as drought management in low rainfall areas, early warning systems for natural disasters, tackling of malnutrition and diseases such as encephalitis that impacts children, in addition to cyber security and cleaner energy and drinking water.
Integrated Research System
Focusing on the need to move away from rigid silo-based research, the PM has highlighted the need for a research system wherein research in arts, humanities and social sciences was not conducted separately from science and technology but in sync and even in fusion with one another in order to provide more holistic solutions to people.
Forging of Partnerships with Private Technology Giants
There is a collaboration between Department of Science and Technology and Intel Corporation for research on real-time river water and air quality monitoring. It will involve an end-to-end IoT-based real-time water and air quality monitoring solutions, creating affordable and applicable solutions for India’s community challenges.
Technology and River Cleaning and Restoration
Technology has been put to good use in project such as Namami Gange. Not only Geographic Information System (GIS) has been employed, laboratories have been equipped with advanced instruments backed by well-trained scientific personnel in five main stem Ganga basin states to carry out the pollution assessment and water quality monitoring activities.
Technology & Non-Renewable Energy
India not only has the world’s largest solar park in Karnataka, it is also a joint leader (with France) in the multi-country Solar Alliance. The country has set a target to generate 100 GW solar energy by 2022 for increasing share of carbon free energy in the energy mix.
Financial Boost to Innovation
Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship Scheme has been launched under which a thousand bright minds from the best Institutions in the country will be offered direct admission in Ph.D. Programs in IITs and IISc. The scheme will encourage quality research and address shortage of faculty in the premier educational Institutions.
Encouraging Creativity at Young Age
Under Atal Innovation Mission, Atal Tinkering Labs have been set up with a vision to ‘Cultivate one Million children in India as Neoteric Innovators’ in schools across India. The objective of this scheme is to foster a culture of scientific innovation where young children will get a chance to work with tools and equipment to understand the concepts of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).
Overhauling of Science and Tech Administration
Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) has been set up as an overarching body that assesses specific science and technology domains in India, and formulates interventions and roadmaps.
Personalised initiative by Modi
When in an interaction with scientists, Mr Modi made a “personal request” that scientists spend 100 hours per annum with 100 students of classes 9 to 12 to discuss science and technology, he expressed a personal intent to nurture scientific temperament among the youth. He also requested them to extend their research from “labs to the land”.
Introduction of the first indigenously developed and manufactured semi high-speed “Vande Bharat Express” will give the Indian passengers world class experience with speed, service and safety. This major leap in wholly developed technology has been made possible by Indian engineers giving an impetus to the Make in India programme.
In addition to the above, there are several concrete achievements that we have made in the field of technology, a list of which is available in this piece How India’s Technological Map was Redrawn Last Five Years. Such landmarks give us the perfect occasion for not only remembering Sir CV Raman, but also celebrating the National Science Day that falls today.