With the start of General Elections 2019, there are talks swirling around boosting India’s economy and turning it into a startup nation. The Budget 2019 positioned India becoming $5-trillion economy in the next five years which will grow into $10-trillion economy by 2032. As discussed in an earlier article, both leading parties have made emerging technologies like artificial intelligence a crucial part of their manifesto. In this article, we look at the past initiatives made by BJP to mainstream science in India.
The PM constituted the Science Technology Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) in November last year aimed at rendering science and innovation related advice to the PMO and oversee the implementation of PM’s vision on STEM-related matter. It was set up with a mission to ‘establish strong linkages between educational institutions, R&D labs, industry and various government departments’ and take the fruits of technology and innovation down to the common man. The council is also tasked with giving PM frequent brief ups about the implementation status of STIAC projects.
To extend the programme and to ensure that common man and school children benefit from the application of science, the council members are working towards establishing strong linkages between the educational institutions, R&D labs, industry and various government departments.
As part of the move, the council will be linked with Atal Tinkering Labs at district and regional level, a press release from the PMO’s office stated. “In this context, the Prime Minister mentioned some priority areas of research such as raising agricultural income, solutions for chronic and genetic diseases such as sickle cell anaemia, waste management and cybersecurity,” it said.
The announcement was made following the meeting of Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, Prof. K. Vijay Raghavan along with members of the Council, and senior officers of the Government of India and will be headed by Raghavan. The new council will replace the previous scientific advisory committee to the PM and cabinet and is expected to constitute 12 special invitees, 11 ex officio secretaries 10 central ministries related to the STEM field. To ensure all-round development, the new council further identified nine key missions, which include:
Natural Language Translation: Through leveraging technologies like machine learning and NLP, the primary motive of this mission to make teaching and research material available in English and native language.
Quantum Frontier: This mission aims to initiate works in control towards the quantum mechanical freedom.
Artificial Intelligence: By leveraging AI, this mission aims to promote the technology for societal needs with deployment in healthcare, education, agriculture, smart cities and infrastructure, including smart mobility and transportation.
National Biodiversity Mission: This includes safeguarding existing biodiversity through the means of cataloguing and mapping all lifeforms in India including associated cultural and traditional practices.
Electrical Vehicle: This mission aims to reduce India’s fossil fuel dependency and promoting electronic-vehicle economical and scalable through focused research and development
BioScience for Human Health: By studying genome and by developing comprehensive reference maps of genomes, the mission aims to understand exposure external environments have an impact on our bodies.
Waste To Wealth: Importance will be given to provide new solutions that will be focussed on generating clean and renewable energy solutions.
Deep Ocean Exploration: The mission aims to understand the deep sea and take measures to protect biodiversity and understand the effect of climate change
Agnii: Is aimed at promoting innovation at grassroots level and to help them commercialise the innovation. By giving innovators a platform to showcase their technology and products, it aims to bring together experts and innovators under one roof.
Though the council was constituted in 2018, Modi-led government is yet to take any constructive steps towards making the council work. Like many other government schemes and policies announced by the government previously, no much talk or development has taken place with regards to PM-STIAC.
The need for the government to look into these schemes and deliver on their promises should be within the agenda of any political parties. A council like PM-STIAC is vital for the development in the field of STEM and the government should proactively work towards making it a reality
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Akshaya Asokan works as a Technology Journalist at Analytics India Magazine. She has previously worked with IDG Media and The New Indian Express. When not writing, she can be seen either reading or staring at a flower.