The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India (Office of PSA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) have jointly initiated a decentralized, bottom-up, and inclusive process for the formulation of a new national Science Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP 2020).
The fifth S&T policy of India is being formulated at a crucial juncture when India and the world are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. This is only the latest among the many important changes in the past decade that have necessitated formulation of a new outlook and strategy for Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). As the crisis changes the world, the new policy with its decentralized manner of formation will reorient STI in terms of priorities, sectoral focus, the way research is done, and technologies are developed and deployed for larger socio-economic welfare.
The STIP 2020 formulation process is organised into 4 highly interlinked tracks: Track I involves an extensive public and expert consultation process through Science Policy Forum – a dedicated platform for soliciting inputs from larger public and expert pool during and after the policy drafting process. Track II comprises experts-driven thematic consultations to feed evidence-informed recommendations into the policy drafting process. Twenty-one (21) focused thematic groups have been constituted for this purpose.
Track III involves consultations with Ministries and States, while Track IV constitutes apex level multi-stakeholder consultation. For Track III nodal officers are being nominated in States and in Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government of India for extensive intra-state and intra-department consultation and for Track IV consultation with institutional leadership, industry bodies, global partners and inter-ministerial and inter-state consultations represented at the highest levels are being carried out.
The consultation processes on different tracks have already started and are running in parallel. The Track-II thematic group (TG) consultation started with a series of information sessions last week. During the information sessions, Dr Akhilesh Gupta, Head of Policy Coordination and Programme Monitoring Division of DST, made the presentations and steered the discussions. The sessions were attended by around 130 members of the 21 thematic groups along with 25 Policy Research Fellows and scientists of DST and Office of PSA.
“The STI Policy for the new India will also integrate the lessons of COVID-19 including building of an Atmanirbhar Bharat (self- reliance) through ST&I by leveraging our strengths in R&D, Design, S&T workforce and institutions, huge markets, demographic dividend, diversity and data,” said Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST
The six-month process involves broad-based consultations with all stakeholders within and beyond the scientific ecosystem of the country –including academia, industry, government, global partners, young scientists and technologists, civic bodies, and general public.
A Secretariat with in-house policy knowledge and data support unit, built with a cadre of DST-STI Policy fellows, has been set up at DST (Technology Bhavan) to coordinate the complete process and interplays between the four tracks