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Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2020

With the passing of the year 2020, the government has missed the deadline for announcing its ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 2020’, which will be the fifth such policy since independence. It has, however, finalised a draft and put it up on the Department of Science and Technology website for public comments. The policy is broadly directional, lacks in specifics but still has several interesting ideas. Here are some:

STI Development Bank

A Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Development Bank will be created to direct long-term investments in select strategic areas. For large-scale mission-mode programmes, rules of lending will be modified for an easier flow of finance.

Strategic tech dev fund

A Strategic Technology Development Fund is to be set up to home-grow strategic technologies in areas such as nuclear science, space, cyber technology and biotechnology. The fund, managed by a Strategic Technology Development Board, will also provide finance to the private sector and higher education institutions for research with specific goals. The idea is to go “beyond government departments” to enhance innovation. A “strategic export policy to enable private players to thrive in the international markets” is on the cards.

Tapping the diaspora

Appropriate institutional mechanisms are to be created to dip into the untapped potential of the highly-skilled Indian scientific diaspora. There will be opportunities for them to return, or to contribute from wherever they are based. An “engagement portal” exclusively to bring together Indian scientists and technocrats worldwide and to engage with Indian researchers is being planned. The diaspora will “participate in high-level consultations for key sectors”.

Science diplomacy

The role of S&T in defining foreign policy priorities “will be vitalized”. Apart from ‘S&T for diplomatic benefits’, ‘diplomacy for S&T development’ is to be promoted. Multilateral dialogues will be initiated with key partner countries on matters related to all aspects of technology and innovation, including issues around technology governance. The number of Indian S&T counsellors in various countries will be increased — and “will be empowered to create opportunities for greater participation of the Indian scientific community, both in India and abroad”.

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