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The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh unveiled a new Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy on the occasion of the centenary year of Indian Science Congress on January 3, 2013 in Kolkata. One of the key goals of the STI policy is to develop science, technology and innovation with focus on faster, sustainable and inclusive development for the people. The policy speaks of
- promoting scientific temper amongst all sections of the society,
- making careers in science, research and innovation an attractive career option particularly for bright young minds,
- establishing world class infrastructure for R&D and increasing India’s contribution to global scientific publications from 3.5% to 7%
- creating an environment for enhanced private sector participation in R&D
to mention a few.
In principle, the policy promises significant boost to a largely demoralized science and technology community in the country. However, the methodology to achieve such goals and the possible outcome, if any, on a developing nation like India needs to be studied in greater details. Developing scientific temper among the vast majority of our population is a desirable but difficult target, keeping in view the impact of religion and caste-based policies of some state governments as well as national political forums. The STI-2013 objective of empowering women through appropriate STI inputs comes at a time when proper representations of women in different policy making positions are inadequate. National statistics of women in key government institutions of science and technology present glaring disparity in representation even after more than five decades of independence. This may be expected in a society caught between the idealisms of ‘equal entitlement’ and the glitz and glamour associated with the so-called ‘shining India’ concept. It should be kept in mind that there are not enough calories per head for a vast majority of Indians with 43% of Indian women being anaemic and 67% starved of calories.
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