Development of Scince and Technology in India

Since Independence, India has endeavoured to bring economic and social change through science and technology. The effort has been both on upgrading the traditional skills to make them relevant and competitive and developing advanced capabilities in frontier areas of science and technology. The visionaries who led the growth of science and technology (S&T) in India were convinced that S&T could play an important role in transforming India in to a modern, industrialized society. Experience and results show that this confidence was well placed.
Science, technology, and innovation are even more relevant today. Scientific knowledge and expertise, innovation, high technology, industrial infrastructure and skilled workforce are the currencies of this new era. Science and Technology are important drivers of economic growth and development in the contemporary world. The present juncture is critical for Indian science and major positive steps in this area will help the country to achieve sustained and rapid growth in the future.
The Science and Technology Division of the Planning Commission is the nodal division for all matters relating to Science and Technology Plan formulation ( both Five Year Plans and Annual Plans) and appraisal of the S&T programmes of six major S&T agencies/Departments, viz. •Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)- R&D Sector •Department of Space (DOS) •Department of Science and Technology (DST) •Department of Biotechnology (DBT) Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) including the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) •Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) The Division has been maintaining a close liaison with these S&T agencies/departments for smooth information flow and provides them important suggestions/inputs in the formulation of various S&T plans and programmes at various stages of plan formulation, implementation and half yearly reviews. The Division has also been providing important inputs in the formulation of S&T Policy.
In order to promote Science and Technology in the States/UTs, create scientific awareness among the masses through popularization of S&T and technology dissemination for improving the quality of life of the people, the Division undertakes detailed discussions with the representatives of the States/UTs and provides important inputs/suggestions for the formulation of their Five Year Plans and Annual Plans in respect of the Science and Technology Sector. The vital role of science in modern life is not overstated in view of today’s world. Science and technology have profoundly influenced the course of human civilization.
Science has provided us remarkable insights into the world we live in. The scientific revolutions of the 20th century have led to many technologies, which promise to herald wholly new eras in many fields, As we stand today at the beginning of a new century, we have to ensure fullest use of these developments for the well being of our people. Science and technology have been an integral part of Indian civilisation and culture over the past several millennia. Few are aware that India was the fountainhead of important foundational scientific developments and approaches.
These cover many great scientific discoveries and technological achievements in Mathematics, Astronomy, Architecture, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Medicine, Natural Philosophy and other areas. A great deal of this travelled outwards from India. Equally, India also assimilated scientific ideas and techniques from elsewhere, with open-mindedness and a rational attitude, characteristic of a scientific ethos. India’s traditions have been founded on the principles of universal harmony, respect for all creations and an integrated holistic approach.
This background is likely to provide valuable insights for future scientific advances. During the century prior to independence, there was an awakening of modem science in India through the efforts of a number of outstanding scientists. They were responsible for great scientific advances of the highest international caliber. Apart from the vast changes it has brought about, the development of a scientific temper in the people is considered important. In the planned economy of a country, science must necessarily play an especially important role.
Improvements in techniques evolved as a result of scientific research brings about great increases in production in the different sectors of the economy. National resources are augmented by the substitution of cheap and abundant materials for those in scarce supplies and by finding uses for materials, which have remained un-utilized, prior to independence, very little attention was given to the problem of scientific and industrial research in India. A number of universities and institutes carried out research, mostly on fundamental aspects of science.
Certain industries also had their own research organizations. However, industry depended, by and large, on foreign techniques and did not develop research programmes of its own. A large number of products that had been imported into the country had to be manufactured to meet both civilian and military needs. Indian substitutes had to be found for imported materials and processes had to be developed which would use these materials in place of imported ones. In these circumstances, the Government of India constituted die Board of Scientific and Industrial Research in 1940.
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was formed in 1942. Since independence there has been a greater emphasis on the provision of additional facilities for the promotion of scientific and industrial research. The most significant development in this sphere has been the establishment of a chain of national laboratories and research institutes in different parts of the country. The establishment of national laboratories and research institutes has a special importance in a country like India where medium and small-scale producers contribute a considerable proportion of industrial production.
These industries cannot afford to have research facilities of their own, as the larger producers can. Besides these laboratories and research institutes, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has made contributions towards the promotion of fundamental and applied research at a number of institutions and universities. In the half century since independence, India has been committed to the task of promoting the spread of science. The key role of technology as an important element of national development is also well recognized.
The Scientific Policy Resolution of 1958 and the Technology Policy Statement of 1983 enunciated the principles on which die growth of science and technology in India has been based over the past several decades. These policies have emphasized self-reliance, as also sustainable and equitable development. Successes in agriculture, health care, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, nuclear energy, astronomy and astrophysics, space technology and applications, defence research, biotechnology, electronics, information technology and oceanography are widely acknowledged.
Major national achievements include very significant increase in food production, eradication or control of several diseases and increased life expectancy of our citizens. While these developments have been highly satisfying, one is also aware of die dramatic changes that have taken place, and continue to do so, in die practice of science, in technology development, and their relationships with, and impact on die society. Particularly striking is die rapidity with which science and technology is moving ahead.
Science is becoming increasingly inter-and multi-disciplinary, and calls for multi-institutional and, in several cases, multi-country participation. Major experimental facilities, even in several areas of basic research, require very large amount of materials, human and intellectual resources. Science and technology have become so closely intertwined, and so reinforce each other that, to be effective, any policy needs to view them together.
The continuing revolutions in die field of information and communication technology have had profound impact on the manner and speed with which scientific information becomes available, and scientific interactions take place. Science and technology have had unprecedented impact on economic growth and social development. Knowledge has become a source of economic might and power. This has led to increased restrictions on sharing of knowledge, to new norms of intellectual property rights, and to global trade and technology control regimes.
Scientific and technological developments today also have deep ethical, legal and social implications. There are deep concerns in society about these. The ongoing globalization and the intensely competitive environment have a significant impact on the production and service sectors. Because of all this, our science and technology system has to be infused with new vitality if it is to play a decisive and beneficial role hi advancing the well being of all sections of our society. The nation continues to be firm in its resolve to support science and technology in all its facets.
It recognizes its central role in raising the quality of life of the people of the country, particularly of the disadvantaged sections of society, in creating wealth for all, in making India globally competitive, in utilizing natural resources in a sustainable manner, in protecting die environment, and ensuring national security. India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world; 162 universities award 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research runs 40 research laboratories that have made some significant achievements.
In the field of missile launch technology, India is among the five top nations of the world. Science and Technology, however, is used as an effective instrument of growth and change. It is being brought into the mainstream of economic planning in the sectors of agriculture, industry and services. The country’s resources are used to derive the maximum output for the benefit of society and improvement in the quality of life. About 85 per cent of the funds for science and technology come directly or indirectly from the Government.
The science and technology infrastructure in the country accounts for more than one per cent of the GNP. Science and technology in India is entering a new frontier. The prime objective of India’s nuclear energy programme is the development and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes such as power generation, applications in agriculture, medicine, industry, research and other areas. India is today recognized as one of the countries most advanced in nuclear technology including production of source materials.
The country is self-reliant and has mastered the expertise covering the complete nuclear cycle-from exploration and mining to power generation and waste management. Accelerators and research and power reactors are now designed and built indigenously. The sophisticated variable energy cyclotron at Kolkata and a medium energy heavy ion accelerator ‘pelletron’ set up recently at Mumbai are national research facilities in the frontier areas of the science. As part of its programme for peaceful uses of atomic energy, India has also embarked on a program of nuclear power generation.
Currently eight nuclear stations are producing 8 billion kilowatts of electricity. Four more nuclear power stations have been planned. The new nuclear reactors have been completely designed in India. The peaceful nuclear programme also includes producing radio-isotopes for use in agriculture, medicine, industry and research. The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), under the Department of Space (DOS), is responsible for research, development and operation in space systems in the areas of satellite communications, remote sensing for resource survey, environmental monitoring, meteorological services etc.
DOS is also the nodal agency for the Physical Research Laboratorywhich conducts research in the areas of space science, and the National Remote Sensing Agency which deploys modern remote sensing techniques for natural resource surveys and provides operational services to user agencies. India is the only third world country to develop its own remote sensing satellite. India joined a select group of six nations on October 15, 1994, when the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) successfully . accomplished its mission of placing the 800-kg remote sensing satellite, IRS-P2, in the intended orbit.
The INSAT series of satellites launched earlier are performing well and provide vital services for telecommunications, television, meteorology, disaster warning and distress detection. The latest INSAT series will include new features like Kit-band transponders and mobile satellite service, transponders. The remote-sensing satellites, launched in 1988 and 1991, have already become the mainstays of the natural resource management system of the country. The projected launch of advanced remote sensing satellite will not only enhance the scope of their application, but will also offer commercial service to other countries.
The most significant milestone of the Indian Space Programme during the year 2005-06 was the successful launch of PSLV-C6. On May 5, 2006, the ninth flight of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C6) from Satish Dhawan Space centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota successfully placed two satellites-1560 kg CARTOSTAR-1 and 42 kg HAMSAT-into a predetermined polar Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO). The successful launch of INSAT-4A, the heaviest and most powerful Satellite built by India so far, on 22 December 2005 was the other major event of the year 2005-06. INSAT-4A is capable of providing Direct-To-Home (DTH) television broadcasting services.
The Indian space programme entered a new era when ISRO’s Polar Satellite Launch vehicle (PSLV)-C7 successfully launched on January 10,2007 four satellites into high polar orbit from Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC), Sriharikota. The four satellites put into orbit were India’s CARTUSAT-2 and space Capsule Recovery Experiment. (SRE-1), Indonesia’s LAPAN-TUBSAT and Argentina’s PEHUENSAT-1. The Indian achievement in the application of space-based remote sensing technology has led a US company to enter into an agreement for marketing the data from Indian satellites globally.
India’s progress in space technology has attracted worldwide attention and demand, with leasing agreements for marketing of IRS data and supply of space hardware and services. India also believes in co-operation in space with agencies all over the world. A high-level UN team selected India for setting up a UN Centre for Space Science and Technology Education. India is on the threshold of achieving self-reliance in the launch capability. It will be a befitting tribute to the father of the Indian space program, Dr. Vikararn Sarabhai, whose 90th birth anniversary was observed in August 2006.
India has been the forerunner among the developing countries in promoting multi-disciplinary activities in the field of biotechnology, recognizing the practically unlimited possibility of their applications in increasing agricultural and industrial production, and in improving human and animal life. The nucleus of research in this area is the National Biotechnology Board, constituted in 1982. A Department of Biotechnology was created in 1986. Recently, the Biotechnology Consortium India Limited was set up. It will play the role of catalyst in bridging the gap between Research and Development, Industrial and Financial Institutions.
Some of the new initiatives taken include developing techniques for gene mapping, conservation of biodiversity and bio indicators’ research, special biotechnology programs for the benefit of die scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and activities in the area of plantation oops. The areas, which have been receiving attention, are cattle herd improvement through embryo transfer technology, in vitro propagation of disease resistant plant varieties for obtaining higher yields, and development of vaccines for various diseases.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was established in 1942, and is today the premier institution for scientific and industrial research. It has a network of 40 laboratories, two co-operative industrial research institutions and more than 100 extension and field centres. The Council’s research programs are directed towards effective utilization of the country’s natural resources and development of new processes and products for economic progress. It is now playing a leading role in the fulfillment of the technology missions evolved by the Government.
Thus, we see that India has made unprecedented development in the field of scientific research and technology during the post-independence period and this just seems to be the beginning of a road with endless possibilities. All we need is to plan and organize in a way so as to be able to harness our intelligentsia in the right direction and provide it with the right opportunities. Science has been a major force in the development of the modern world. It has had a great impact on industry, commerce and the social life of nations. India is rightly proud of the high international standing of its scientific community.
The rapid growth in its heavy industrial sector is one testament to this achievement. Yet at a time when new advances are being made in almost all fields of investigation and practical application, the fact remains that ninety percent of the country lies outside the influence of science, untouched or barely touched by the rapid growth in knowledge and the new technologies that have evolved. This is a country where highly advanced industry lives along side primitive agriculture, but separated by an immense generation gap — a gap in education, prosperity and motivation.
The reason for this is that science as it exists here today is not a natural development of nor integrated with the life of the nation. Rather it has been imposed as a superstructure on the social and economic life of the country and has failed to become a dynamic force for widespread social upliftment. Government planners have recognized this gap which divides the nation by a few centuries of progress and we are now seeing the first real attempts to bridge the distance. The problem of development is twofold.
It is a task of awakening the sleeping potential of the country and educating it for effective action. It is also a task of adapting and molding the latest discoveries, technologies and life styles imported from the western world into a form and spirit in harmony with India’s social and cultural heritage. In the field of science this dual necessity can easily be seen. It is not enough that we create in the people an interest in modern technology or a willingness to adopt it.
It is first essential that the scientific community in India adapt itself to the needs of the country and the people. The pivotal questions are how to involve scientists in evolving technologies relevant to the present needs of the people — which means the rural communities — and how to ensure the application of existing knowledge in the field of agriculture, industry and social life. In the developed countries which passed through the Industrial Revolution, science has come to occupy its present position through successive stages of natural social evolution.
Among the conditions responsible for this development were the birth of democracy and political freedom, the spread of education, the rise of critical mental enquiry as a reaction to the dogmatism of Christianity and the vibrant expansion of human society through the opening of world wide commerce. Mind began to revolt against stagnation and religious fanaticism and to actively look for relationships between natural phenomena. Intuition was given scope for expression. This mental awakening took place in the context of an industrial revolution.
That is, mental enquiry at once expressed itself through the observation of natural law and the application of this knowledge for devising instruments of social utility. Mind arrogantly proclaimed itself the ruler of man and nature. Pure science and applied technology grew side by side integrated with the society in which they rose through progressive stages of development. The industrial revolution absorbed the great mental energies unleashed by scientific enquiry. IMPORTED SCIENCE During the period of western industrialisation India was, historically speaking, in decline.
Her population had learned to live on a subsistence level. The support of religion, culture and spirituality preserved social contentment and traditional ways. Society lacked the impetus to grow and expand. Science as a social institution and organised way of life came to India only after independence. Here it did not arise naturally out of the existing social conditions but rather came as a decision by the national and government leaders to imitate the developmental achievements of the West.
It was not born of a ripened mental climate for creative thought nor from a condition of great commercial activity and expression. In other words, it was imposed as a superstructure on top of the nation without reference to the felt need of the people or the stage of its historical and sociological evolution. AGRICULTURE, CUM INDUSTRIAL CUM SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT Today the scientific community transcends national borders and social customs. It is truly international in outlook, exchange of knowledge, participation of members.
A scientist draws inspiration in being recognised by the higher echelons of the international community. To this extent the scientist has become insulated from the social atmosphere of the country in which he lives. This is especially true in India where science was never integrated with its social base. The problem facing us is to propose ways and means to accomplish this social integration of scientific knowledge and the community of scientists in India.
The development of science in a society occurs under certain social conditions and progresses through certain stages of development. Neither these conditions nor stages can be completely eliminated though they may vary in their make-up and duration. But it is possible to foster the conditions which will accelerate a natural progressive development. For science to be integrated with life, it means that scientific knowledge and technology must be applied in the context of daily life which in India centers around agriculture and to a lesser extent industry and commerce.
In fact the tasks of promoting the agricultural and industrial development of the nation and the application of science to social life are essentially one. The proper atmosphere must be created for a natural development of science in conjunction with agriculture and industry. The linking of these three is the key to national development. VILLAGE BASED SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION When the scientific community turns its attention to advancing rural life, the conditions will be right for a socio-scientific revolution at the village level. Rural life in India means agriculture and agro-based industries.
Already agriculture is being modernised through introduction of new hybrid crops, and the growing utilization of fertilizers and chemicals. Rural youth are becoming accustomed to the operation of machinery. More agricultural products are being converted into consumer goods through agro-based industries. But for the rural people to rise above the level of the soil and develop mentally and scientifically, it is necessary to release the dynamism of the village population. The real lever of development is the releasing and channeling of the social energies of the people.
This can be accomplished when a few individuals in every community are made to see and benefit materially from the application of scientific techniques in their daily life. Once a few have prospered in this manner, whole villages will follow suit. Space science Space activities in the country started during early 1960s with the scientific investigation of upper atmosphere and ionosphere over the magnetic equator that passes over Thumba near Thiruvananthapuram using small sounding rockets Realising the immense potential of space technology for national development, Dr.
Vikram Sarabhai, the visionary leader envisioned that this powerful technology could play a meaningful role in national development and solving the problems of common man. Thus, Indian Space programme born in the church beginning, space activities in the country, concentrated on achieving self reliance and developing capability to build and launch communication satellites for television broadcast, telecommunications and meteorological applications; remote sensing satellites for management of natural resources.
The objective of ISRO is to develop space technology and its application to various national tasks. Accordingly, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully operationalised two major satellite systems namely Indian National Satellites (INSAT) for communication services and Indian Remote Sensing (IRS) satellites for management of natural resources; also, Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) for launching IRS type of satellites and Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) for launching INSAT type of satellites.
The Space Commission formulates the policies and oversees the implementation of the Indian space programme to promote the development and application of space science and technology for the socio-economic benefit of the country. DOS implements these programmes through, mainly Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), Physical Research Laboratory (PRL), National Atmospheric Research Laboratory (NARL), North Eastern-Space Applications Centre (NE-SAC) and Semi-Conductor Laboratory (SCL).
The Antrix Corporation, established in 1992 as a government owned company, markets the space products and services Department of Atomic Energy The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) was set-up on August 3, 1954 under the direct charge of the Prime Minister through a Presidential Order. The vision of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is to empower India through technology, creation of more wealth and providing better quality of life to its citizen.
This is to be achieved by making India energy independent, contributing to provision of sufficient, safe and nutritious food and better health care to our people through development and deployment of nuclear and radiation technologies and their applications. DAE is engaged in the design, construction and operation of nuclear power/research reactors and the supporting nuclear fuel cycle technologies covering exploration, mining and processing of nuclear minerals, production of heavy water, nuclear fuel fabrication, fuel reprocessing and nuclear waste management. It is also eveloping advanced technologies that contribute to the national prosperity. The spin-off technologies, human resource developed and technical services being rendered by the Department have been greatly helping the Indian industry. The Department is also developing better crop varieties, techniques for control/eradication of insects thus protecting the crops, radiation based post harvest technologies, radiation based techniques for diagnosis and therapy of disease particularly cancer, technologies for safe drinking water, better environment and robust industry.
Main Focus areas of work in DAE are: Increasing share of nuclear power through deployment of indigenous and other proven technologies, along with development of fast breeder reactors and thorium reactors with associated fuel cycle facilities. 1. Building and operation of research reactors for production of radioisotopes and carrying out radiation technology applications in the field of medicine, agriculture and industry. 2.
Developing advanced technologies such as accelerators, lasers, supercomputers, advanced materials and instrumentation, and encouraging transfer of technology to industry. 3. Support to basic research in nuclear energy and related frontier areas of science, interaction with universities and academic institutions, support to research and development projects having a bearing in DAE’s programmes and international co-operation in related advanced areas of research and 4. Contribution to national security.
DAE has made the following significant contributions of DAE to the national initiatives: 1. AGRICULTURE: Enhanced production of oilseeds and pulses 2. EDUCATION, HEALTH: i. Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) ii. National Initiative on Undergraduate Science (NIUS) iii. Countrywide Services in Cancer through Telemedicine 3. FOOD & NUTRITION SECURITY:Radiation Processing of Food & Agro Products 4. WATER RESOURCES:Desalination in water scarcity areas along the sea coast 5.
ENERGY SECURITY: Electricity supply in near and long term ensuring long term sustainable development. Solar Energy Research Initiative Department of Science and Technology (DST) is primarily mandated with promotion of R activities. Accordingly, DST’s initiative on Solar Energy is positioned upstream with thrust on enabling knowledge based R activities for entire gamut of solar technologies including balance of systems. This is expected to be achieved through nurturing of R groups, formation of consortia and setting up of State-of-art facilities.
Solar Energy utilization for applications both for power as well as other than power generation with a view to provide convergent technology solutions under real-life conditions are being explored and assessed. DST in recent times has made foray in the area of solar energy through various parallel independent initiatives with distinct objectives. S Inputs for Policy Formulation Precompetitive Research & Technology Upgradation Basic Research and Disruptive Technologies International Cooperation Enabling R for Solar Technologies

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