Even before India became Independent Jawaharlal Nehru visualized that in a fast changing world. India’s future will be shaped by our ability to harness modern science and technology for national development. In the vast changes that are taking place in the world, the most significant is the triumph of science. The advances in the science and technology have emerged as a major determinant of the wealth and power of a nation. These developments have profound implications on the management of the future patterns of social and economic growth. In the past the comparative advantage of a nation depended on either its endowment of natural resources or factor proportions as determined by the relative scarcity of capital and labor. The rapid technological advances in transport and capital and communications have greatly reduced the dependency on natural resources and reductions on border duties have helped to create a world market. In this increasingly integrated and interdependent world economy, India should create an environment conductive to production, absorption and assimilation of new technologies into development processes.
The triumph of science and technology cannot take place by itself. First of all there should be a continuous effort to consolidate the gains of science for improving the human condition. Scientific discoveries have to be converted and by human efforts into technological innovations, which have to be developed and integrated with the processes of social and economic development to bring about considerable improvements in the human condition. Fortunately ever since independence the development of science and technology has been given a priority by the central government. The most effective contribution of science and technology policies of the last 50 years has been the creation of a large reservoir of scientific and technological skills which has greatly helped the country in the diversification of our economic structure. Through we still considerably depend on imported technologies most appropriate for our need.
Our agriculture scientists have made an outstanding contribution to the development of our national economy and human welfare by enabling a once highly deficient food grains. This could be achieved by the success of the Green Revolution. Our successful space related technology have also benefitted our various important national activities, such as in telecommunications, television broadcast, weather watch and for securing information regarding agricultural production, forest wealth, water and mineral resources. Advanced technology is also vital for our national security. It has successfully space the development of the missile and rocket system which are a necessity to strengthen the security environment our nation is facing.
Despite all these positive development, the impact of science and technology development on national economic development has been rather limited. Progress in introducing energy-efficient and environment-friendly technologies have been particularly slow. The major factor is that there has not been enough incentive or pressure to devote adequate resources for research and development, particularly, for new processes and products. The rigid quantitative import controls and high tariff is yet another factor. Thus a broad-based nation-wide movement for technological transformation could not flourish in this highly protective environment-special science and technological policy should be made for over all development.
Man poverty cannot be removed from India without a progressive increase in agricultural productivity. So we need a highly developed national agricultural research system to achieve this objective. For this we should make full use of new technologies, particularly biotechnologies, to increase and stabilizes farm yields, its efficient storage, transport and processing, keeping in view to the needs of small and marginal farmers and drought prone ecological fragile agricultural system.
Science and technology should provide effective measures for the development of a nation-wide effective primary health care system at an affordable cost. Particular attention should be given to reproductive health, safe motherhood and childhood care. Technologies of civil engineering mainly in construction of roads and provision of shelter and sanitation facilities at affordable cost deserve higher priority which it has not received thus far. Full use should be made of new technologies and information to assist in the realization of the goal of Universalization of elementary education for programmes of adult literacy, particularly female literacy. It is crucial for achieving reduction in birth rate, improved health care and reduction in infant Mortality Rate.
Lastly, we need a reorientation of our science and technology policies to meet at the same time the challenges of an international competitive economy and satisfaction of basic human needs of our population. Science and technology cannot develop in isolation from the social and economic realities, and the hopes of our people. It must indeed assist in a speedy removal of man poverty, the building of a self-reliant internationally competitive economy and also help to bring about a spiritual regeneration of our people.