ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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High on Goals, Low on Commitment

Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013

The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 sets a target to increase R&D expenditure to 2% of gross domestic product, this through public-private partnerships. But, compared to China, where is the commitment to R&D? India's innovation potential is grossly underutilised. The small and medium enterprises in the industrial clusters are yet to be effectively served by the formal R&D institutes. The universities as centres of advanced learning and research suffer from official neglect. There has been little effort to set up technology parks linked to them in their vicinity. Civilian R&D has, at most, tenuous links with strategic R&D (defence, atomic energy and space). With all these handicaps, will STIP 2013 help create a robust national innovation system?

The much awaited science, technology and innovation policy (STIP) 2013 was announced by the government at the centenary sessions of the Indian Science Congress held at Kolkata during 3-9 January 2013. Though the realisation had come a decade and a half late, we have now entered the “club” of advanced and a select group of emerging economies that have national innovation policies. The discourse on innovation after the declaration of 2010-20 as the “Decade of Innovation”, deliberations at the National Innovation Council (NIC) constituted in 2010, and public consultations called by the Ministry of Science and Technology, all seem to have had some bearing on the new STIP. Compared to the Science and Technology Policy of 2003, STIP 2013 is a step forward in attempting to forge the links between science, technology and innovation policy. In doing so, the policy has put forward some ideas and proposals.

The policy aims to enhance the private sector’s role in the national science, technology and innovation system through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode and thereby attain the target as regards total expenditure on research and development (R&D) of 2% of gross domestic product. Henceforth, the private sector will be treated at par with public institutions in accessing public funds for R&D via all research and innovation policy measures and instruments. The new policy will promote mechanisms such as a “Risky Idea Fund” and a “Small Idea, Small Money” scheme to capitalise on the existing proposals such as the “Inclusive Innovation Fund” of the NIC and the experiences of the National Innovation Foundation and Honey Bee Network in grass-roots innovations. Non-governmental organisations will be given a major task to deliver and diffuse rural technologies. The government intends to establish a new National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation in the PPP mode to fund some ambitious projects.

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