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About the System

Science & Technology (S&T) has always been an integral part of the Indian culture. Natural Philosophy as it was termed ancient times was pursued vigorously at institutions of higher learning. The contributions made by the scholar-scientists Aryabhatta, Bhaskara, Brahmagupta, Dhanvantari and Nagarjuna, to name a few, to the fields of mathematics, astronomy, medicine and chemistry during the prehistoric period are legendary and invaluable not only to Indian S&T but also to the knowledge base of the humanity at large. The astronomical observations at Jaipur and New Delhi and the Ashoka Pillar in New Delhi stand as living testimonies to the high standards of Indian capabilities. The dawn of the present century witnessed great strides made by Indian scientists like Srinivasa Ramanujan, J.C. Bose, P.C. Ray, Meghnad Saha, C.V. Raman, S.N. Bose, Birbal Sahni, P.C. Mahalanobis and M. Visvesvaraya, who have left indelible imprints on the world S&T scene.

The innate ability to perform creatively in science came to be backed with an institutional set-up and strong state support after country's independence in 1947. Since then, the Government of India has spared no effort to establish a modern S&T organisation in the country. India's first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru gave whole-hearted support to a concerted programme for the promotion of S&T in the country. As a result, many new S&T departments and laboratories were set up and the pursuance of scientific research started in an organised manner. Jawaharlal Nehru firmly believed that Science and Technology can be the twin tools that would help bring about social equity and economic development to enable India join the mainstream of the world community. This conviction was reflected in the Scientific Policy Resolution (SPR) of 1958, the aim of which was "to foster, promote and sustain the cultivation of sciences and scientific research in the country and to secure for the people all the benefits that can accrue from the acquisition and application of scientific knowledge".

With this in view, several departments were set up by the government with specific objectives which at once met the immediate social needs even as they allowed the country to leap-frog into the modern high-tech world. The departments of Atomic Energy, Science and Technology, and Space were thus among the first S&T departments in the country with the Prime Minister himself taking the reins. Industrialisation of the country, according to the founding fathers of modern India, was essential for improving the quality of life. Consequently, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research expanded with the establishment of various institutions dedicated to the development of specific industries.

The economic development of the country at that time had not reached a stage where the private sector could play a leading role in the S&T development. Consequently, it was rightly decided by the Government to take this task upon itself and provide the initial momentum. This has resulted in a broad-based and extensive S&T network. Development of adequate trained and competent S&T manpower, infrastructure and ability to work towards specific goals in a time-targeted manner followed naturally. It is this which is now making the task of changing the operational philosophy wherein the Government or the public sector rightfully expects the private sector to become an equal, if not the dominant, partner in the development of technology to a level where it becomes globally competitive.

So wide is the S&T infrastructure in India today that it encompasses S&T organisations under the Central Government, State Government as well as public and private sectors working in areas as diverse as agriculture and healthcare on the one hand and nuclear and space research on the other. Significant contributors are the large number of institutes/undertakings functioning under the Central Government S&T departments.

The S&T departments functioning under the auspices of Central Government are : Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Scientific & Industrial Research (DSIR), Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Department of Space (DoS), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and Department of Ocean Development (DOD).

DST is primarily entrusted with the responsibility of formulation of S&T policies and their implementation, identification and promotion of thrust areas of research in different sectors of S&T; technology information, forecasting and assessment; international collaboration, promotion of science & society programmes and coordination of S&T activities in the country.

The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), with its 40 institutes dedicated to research and development in well defined areas and around 100 field stations, is the major organisation under DSIR. Among the other programmes of DSIR are : support to R&D by industry, programmes aimed at technological self-reliance, schemes to enhance efficacy of transfer of technology and a National Information System for Science and Technology (NISSAT).

DAE, which is committed to peaceful uses of atomic energy, is mainly engaged in establishing production of safe, economical nuclear power, using country's resources of uranium and thorium. It also extends non-electricity applications of nuclear energy in agriculture, healthcare and industry to improve the quality of life. It builds research reactors and develops technologies related to accelerators and lasers, and supports basic research in areas related to nuclear energy and other frontier areas of science, through its well equipped multi-disciplinary R&D Centers.

DoS operates through a major set-up, the Indian Space Research Organisation, which is responsible for planning and executing a viable space programme to develop satellites and launch systems and provide space-based services in the areas of communication, meteorology, resources survey, management and sustainable development.

DBT is primarily responsible for identifying and supporting specific R&D programmes in biotechnology and biotechnology-related product manufacture. It also supports training of young scientists in the field of biotechnology at various universities and institutes.

DOD concerns itself with the task of establishing policies for marine R&D, survey of living and non-living resources of EEZ and continental shelf of the country, exploration of deep seabed mining, harnessing wave energy and consolidation of Antarctic research.

Sufficient infrastructure exists in the Indian S&T organisations to efficiently interact with the end-users. In fact, a large number of projects are carried out on collaboration/sponsorship basis. In addition to R&D activities, these organisations also support extramural research, and provide extension services such as consultancy and training for the benefit of industry and other end-users.

Among the S&T organisation associated with other Central Government Ministries, Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) under the Ministry of Defence, Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) under the Ministry of Agriculture and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare have large R&D infrastructure.

There are about 200 national laboratories and an equal number of R&D institutes in the Central Sector and about 1300 R&D units in the industrial sector. The number of persons employed in the R&D establishments is estimated to be around 300,000.

In addition to R&D establishments, the other major body pursuing S&T activities in India is the country's vast university system. Comprising 162 universities, 32 institutions deemed to be universities and 10 institutes of national importance, it is a major source of S&T manpower development, producing around 200,000 S&T personnel every year. The total stock of the S&T manpower in the country at the end of 1990, is estimated to be around 4.0 million.

The Central Government is the chief patron of scientific and industrial research. Its share was 74% of the India's total R&D expenditure estimated around Rs. 57 billion during 1993-94.

The commitment of Indian Government to promote socio-economic growth of the country through the use of S&T has shown remarkable success in a short span of four decades.

India today ranks among the few developing countries which have achieved self-sufficiency in food production. The country has endeavoured to fulfill the basic needs of healthcare and housing for a large section of its people.

In the field of basic research, the country has done notably and has established major research groups with world-class capabilities in various emerging and frontline areas of Science & Technology. Some examples are the areas of Molecular Biophysics, Molecular Biology, Neuro-biology, Liquid Crystals, Biomedical Devices, Superconductivity, Condensed Matter Physics, Astronomy and Astrophysics, Powder Processing and Advanced Materials, Organic Chemistry, Solid Sate and Surface Chemistry, Numerical Weather Prediction, Parallel Processing and Atmospheric Sciences.

India occupies a unique position in the world having formulated its own nuclear programme and cultivated self-reliance in areas of reactor technology and its entire associated fuel cycle. The country designs, constructs and operates nuclear reactors, fabricates the required fuel -- reprocesses it, and treats the waste generated in the entire fuel cycle in a comprehensive manner by a totally indigenous effort.

Similarly, in the high-tech area of space research India can now design, build and operate state-of-the-art communication and remote sensing satellites as well as launch 1000 kg class remote sensing satellites into polar sunsynchronous orbit. Many of the technologies developed for the nuclear and space research programmes are now finding their way into the market and being used in other sectors. Indian industry is striving to keep pace with these developments.

Yet another achievement which speaks of the high level of S&T capability of India is the development of supercomputers -- only a few advanced countries have this capability today.

In the field of Aeronautics, the country has developed and successfully flown an all-composite trainer aircraft. Projects are in hand for the development of Light Transport Aircraft and Light Combat Aircraft.

A large number of technologies have been developed and commercialized for various chemicals, including petrochemicals and agrochemicals; industrial catalysts; drugs and pharmaceuticals; biomedical devices; food processing; leather processing and products; engineering materials and equipment; electronic equipment and construction materials, to cite a few. Many of these technologies have also been marketed abroad, an indication of their global competitiveness.

Special mention may be made of the technologies developed for industrial catalysts, such as Encilites, for producing important petrochemicals like p-xylene, ethylbenzene and olefins, and for drugs such as AZT (anti-AIDS), Etoposide (anti-cancer) and Centchroman (non-steroidal oral contraceptive).

Micropropagation of several trees and crops by the plant tissue culture technique, development of ELISA and PCR techniques and DNA probes for detecting enteric pathogens in drinking water, development of toxinogenic oral vaccine for cholera and conversion of molasses to ethanol using a special yeast strain are a few examples of achievements made in the field of Biotechnology.

The major programmes being pursued in the field of marine sciences include exploration and exploitation of living and non-living marine resources, study of air-sea interactions, coastal zone management and scientific expeditions to Antarctica. India has established its reputation for carrying out oceanographic surveys. A major assignment completed was the comprehensive survey of the Caribbean waters under the CORE project. India's success in exploration and survey of deep sea polymetallic nodules has earned here the distinction of being registered as a Pioneer Investor under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which has recently come into force. An area of 150,000 sq.km has been allotted in the Central Indian Ocean to India for survey, exploration, and ultimate retention of 75,000 sq.km. of high abundance area.

S&T System in India
  About the System
  Department of Science &
  Technology
  Department of Space
  Department of Atomic
  Energy
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  Central Government S&T
  Departments
Science & Technology Policy,   2013
Science & Technology Policy,   2003
Technology Policy
  Statement, January 1983
Scientific Policy Resolution   1958

 

 

 

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