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  • India's new S&T policy banks on the private sector

[KOLKATA] India's new science, technology and innovation policy plans to boost innovation through research and development (R&D) driven by private sector participation and place India among the top five global scientific powers by 2020.

The policy, released at the opening of the centenary edition of the Indian Science Congress this month (3 January) India's fourth, expects to increase R&D expenditure from the present one per cent of GDP to two per cent within the decade.

Inaugurating the congress, India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said the new policy "aspires to position India among the top five global scientific powers by the year 2020."

Singh said India's 12th Five-Year Plan, approved by the government's National Development Council a few days ago, outlines several initiatives to help nurture talent, stimulate research in the universities and foster science leaders.

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 A prime minister's fellowship for doctoral research announced at the congress features collaboration with the Department of Science and Technology and the Confederation of Indian Industry to promote industry-relevant research in academia and increase industry’s investment in R&D.

The new science policy seeks to encourage R&D output with societal and commercial applications. "Developing solutions to social problems is the new grammar of modern science," said Jaipal Reddy, minister for science and technology.

According to Reddy, this will be done by replicating successful models and establishing new public private participation (PPP) structures. 

"We are working on some new models of PPP, but it is too early to share the details," said Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan, chancellor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation.

According to Raghunath Anant Mashelkar, former director-general of India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a chain of publicly-funded R&D institutions, the new policy calls for a complete change in mindset across all sections of society.

One aim of the policy is to create a robust national innovation system and increase India’s share of global scientific publications from 3.5 per cent to over seven per cent.

"The policy brings education, research and innovation together for the first time and will help convert knowledge into money," Mashelkar told SciDev.Net.

An important part of the policy, Mashelkar said, is the creation of an environment favourable for the participation of industry that is focused on changing the way the money is spent on R&D, rather than   increasing expenditure.

Link to Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013: