India Science Report: Science Education, Human Resources and Public Attitude towards Science and Technology

Rajesh Shukla
JEL codes: 
National Council of Applied Economic Research, 2005

Countries worldwide monitor THE health of their scientific and technological activities through national science reports. These country reports are an important component in reconstructing national S&T priorities and have played a large part in funding and monitoring S&T programmes in these countries. Unfortunately, no systematic and comprehensive empirical assessment of S&T efforts is available in the Indian context, resulting in a relatively chaotic and contradictory picture of the national efforts in S&T. An important factor contributing to such images of S&T efforts in the country is the paucity of reliable data in an accessible and timely manner.
Further, studies of the impact of Indian science on society and national development are often based on sporadic, outdated, and scattered Indian reports. A few studies, with specific purposes, have been undertaken at different points of time to evaluate the performance of institutions based on various S&T statistics, for example, in the context of restructuring scientific institutions, creating centralised facilities, cost cutting, and improving productivity. At the national level, no efforts have been made on a single platform to evaluate the overall scientific and technological achievements of the multi-layered S&T system in India. Often international data sources are consulted.
It was in this context and to address the empirical gaps that the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) commissioned a study to the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to bring out the first India Science Report (ISR). The ISR is an ambitious project that is intended not as an eventbut as a process, of which this first report is the beginning. Given the potentially vast canvas of issues that could be addressed by the first ISR, and limited time and resources, it was only inevitable that prioritisation of issues and topics would be needed. Thus, to begin with, it was decided to concentrate on the three major issues, namely, status of science and engineering education, utilisation pattern of human resource and public attitude towards S&T through an altogether new approach i.e., primary survey based approach never before attempted in the country.