Have taken S&T towards leadership position during the last 4 years, says govt

In his address to the media on the completion of four years of Modi government, the union science and technology minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan talked about the focus on developing the better scientific ecosystem and promoting indigenous technologies

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The Union Minister for Science & Technology, Earth Sciences and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr Harsh Vardhan visiting an exhibition, during a press conference on the four years achievements of the Ministry of Science & Technology and Ministry of Earth Sciences, in New Delhi on June 07, 2018. The Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr. M. Rajeevan and the Secretary of Department of Biotechnology, Dr Renu Swarup are also seen.

New Delhi: As per the union government, during the last four years, it has been working on building an end-to-end, holistic scientific ecosystem. This includes enhancing the quality and quantity of impactful basic research to translational research to technology development, to technology transfer, to innovation and startups to enabling commercialization of indigenous technology.

Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan briefed media about achievements of Ministry of Science & Technology in last 4 years at a press meet and exhibition in New Delhi on 7th June. “Our science is now working to solve important challenges in the areas of water, energy, health, environment, climate, agriculture, food. At the same time, India is getting future-ready in launching ambitious missions in cyber physical system, Artificial Intelligence, Super Computing, Deep Ocean, biopharmaceuticals, and others, which will make us globally competitive in a rapidly changing world order,” said Dr Harsh Vardhan.

The Union Minister added: “The government has also connected our science to our national needs, opportunities and priorities, such as those reflected in the national missions like Make in India, Start-up India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat and Swasth Bharat. Government emphasizes on new and strong connections with industry, education, with the line ministries and with other nations.”

Dr Vardhan also pointed out towards the fact that the investment in science, technology, and related areas has gone up during the last four years starting 2014-15 to 2018-19, as against five years earlier, i.e., 2009-10 to 2013-14. “The budget allocation to Department of Science & Technology was Rs 19,764 crores, which is a whopping 90 percent increase. Similarly, there was an increase of 65 percent for the Department of Biotechnology,” he said.

“S&T collaborations with the best in the world immensely benefit our scientific community and R&D institutions. Some noteworthy international collaboration during the last four years are: India becoming a partner in the LIGO project for gravitational wave detection with agreement to set-up the detector station in India and India becoming the Associate Member State of CERN; Establishment of India-Israel Industrial R&D and Technological Innovation Fund, etc,” mentioned Dr Vardhan.

The notable achievements during the last four years have been the development of new technologies and transfer of over 800 technologies to the industry. A new synergy has been established between intra-ministry laboratories and inter-ministry institutions. Scientific laboratories have increasingly become problem-resolution hubs for many government agencies like Railways, Heavy Industry, Urban Development, Defence, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Power, Coal and New and Renewable Energy. Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to name a few.

The approach has been realigned to have a mix of fundamental science and application science. This year’s budget announcement on Mission for Cyber-Physical Systems is one such example of application science. Mission-based projects on Supercomputing, Aroma, Sickle Cell Anemia and Biopharma are some illustrative examples of application and solution science initiatives.

S&T intervention in Agriculture sector to improve crop productivity makes a huge impact on rural economy. Ministry of Earth Sciences provides agro-meteorological advisories to 24 million farmers currently, which will be scaled up to 40 million by July 2018. The timely weather information has helped in farming activities, which had resulted in a positive economic impact of Rs 50,000 crores to national GDP.

A similar kind of information is provided to fishermen in the country on potential fishing zones, on fish availability. These advisories reach more than four lakh users every day, a four-fold increase during the last four years.

A joint research by CSIR DBT and ICAR has developed blight-resistant improved Samba Mahsuri Rice, which is now being cultivated in an area of 120,000 hectares in seven states. This variety of rice is amongst the low glycemic index, which is amongst the lowest value for several rice varieties tested and thus, is considered highly suitable for diabetic patients.

CSIR has launched a project in Mission-mode for development of Chemical Intermediaries and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API), which would significantly reduce India’s dependence on imports, especially from China.

With India pledging to reduce fossil fuel, the new energy mix includes a higher percentage of clean energy. Several technologies have been developed indigenously by CSIR, such as coal dust collecting and briquetting system, Solar Power Tree, Novel Hydro-Electric Cell, etc. India’s first Second-Generation (2G) Ethanol plant has been formally unveiled and transferred to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) to build commercial scale biomass ethanol plants.

In the area of Clean Energy India today occupies a leadership role in the 23 country Mission Innovation network. In less than 3 years, the investment in R&D has been doubled. India has announced the first International Clean Energy Incubator.

As several areas in the country are facing acute shortage of water or poor quality of drinking water, the Ministry has launched several initiatives during the last four years to augment safe drinking water at an affordable cost through appropriate S&T interventions developed indigenously.

In order to boost the start-up ecosystem, the government has increased the allocation by five times in DST alone. The Ministry has supported more than 5,000 Start-ups and 200 incubators. Apart from this, the ministry has also launched a programme called MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge), to trigger innovation among school children from 6th to 10th standard.

“During the last four years, the ministry has enhanced capacity building of scientists, teachers, young researchers and attracting students to science streams. Ministry supported around 11 lakh persons – right from school level to post-doctoral research. The Department of Science & Technology has launched several new schemes to attract young scientists. The Ministry has successfully attracted more than 600 eminent scientists of Indian origin from overseas to return to the country,” concluded Dr Vardhan.