Four Ways to Liberate Indian Science
Good research needs autonomy, investment, respect for copyright and a healthy interest in profit.
The economic liberalization of 1991 was the second independence in Indian history. It represented a tectonic shift in policies, the start of the end of ‘licence raj’, and unshackled the growth of the country. Time has come for the third independence of India, the libralisation of the academic, science and technology ecosystem in the country.
Historically, the growth of countries has been driven by continual advances in science and technology. According to Robert Solow, Nobel prize winner in economics, capital and labour are not the only things that drive economic growth, half the economic growth in the US since World War II can be taced to advances in science and technology. Even China has realized this. At the current rates, China’s commitment to R & D is expected to surpass that of the US by 2022, when both countries are likely to rach about $600 billion in R & D. Unfortunately, successive governments in India have only provided lip service to the science and technology sector. Moreever, simply allocating money for science and technology is not in itself sufficient to drive economic growth. The new Government has the opportunity and the mandate to liberalise the Indian science and technology ecosystem, which is the transformative step required to take the Indian economy to the next level.
1. Free academic science and technology institutions to attract best talents REALITY CHECK India produces around 750,000 engineers every year, 12 times as many as the US, but 47 per cent are not employable in any sector.
2. Empower institutions to capatilise their assets and resources REALITY CHECK The land on which Silicon Valley came up was seeded by Stanford University. About 39,900 active companies trace their roots to the university.
3. Create an R & D-friendly policy famework REALITY CHECK India spends 0.96 per cent of its GDP on R & D while China and the Us are likely to spend about $600 billion on R &D by 2022.
4. Send a strong message that intellectual property ownershipis respected here REALITY CHECK In 1900, when physicist Jagdish Bose presented a paper in Paris on how non-living things could exhibit sensory responses, Swami Vivekananda urged him to file for a US patent, granted in 1904.
Adopted from IT 30 June 2014.