2 Oct : The Department of Science and Technology has been playing a crucial role in identifying and promoting front-line and priority areas on Research and Development (R&D) in various disciplines of science and engineering.
This support, is provided through Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) – an advisory body consisting of eminent scientists and technologists drawn from academic institutions like IITs, universities, national laboratories and industry. The Council through its advisory committees, assists the Department not only in peer reviewing the proposals but also identifies newer and interdisciplinary areas of R&D for concerted efforts. The Council, with the help of the advisory committees, also monitors progress of individual projects sponsored in various disciplines along with monitoring the progress of co-ordinated and concerted efforts. Every year around 1,000 project proposals are received for consideration in the Department, most of which fall in the category of basic sciences and engineering research.
Assessing the importance of the emerging, highly interdisciplinary field of Nanoscience and Technology, a national programme titled “Nanomaterials Science and Technology Initiative (NSTI)” has been started. The programme focuses at overall research and development in nanoscience and technology with vigour so that India can become a significant player in the area and contribute to the development of new technologies.
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence, the Government launched Swarnajayanti Fellowships for enabling outstanding young scientists to attain world class levels in science. The Fellowships are open to Indian scientists in the age group of 30-40 years, with proven capability for outstanding research work exploring new frontiers in their field of specialisation.
Infrastructure Development : The Department through its various programmes has been playing a catalytic role in supporting the setting-up of new R&D facilities along with the modernisation of the existing ones. ‘Intensification of Research in High Priority Areas’- IRHPA has helped in strengthening of the infrastructure and research capabilities in selected areas of science and engineering. Under this programme, units/ core groups and National Research Facilities are established around an outstanding scientist to act as a focal point to nucleate research activity in these areas.
Universities are cradles of innovation and research. In order to provide and improve basic infrastructure in academic sector for research and teaching a scheme viz. Fund for Improvement of S&T Infrastructure in Universities and Higher Educational Institutions (FIST) was initiated during the 9th Five Year Plan. Under this programme support is provided for up-gradation of laboratories by providing equipment, computer networking, library facilities, etc. The programme identifies active university/academic departments for support through a peer review mechanism including on-site visits.
Human Resource Development : The Department also supports different programmes aimed at identifying new talent and provide them with financial assistance in the from of fellowships for pursuing research in front-line areas of science and technology. Also, for the researchers the Department supports training programmes, summer schools and contact programmes. The programmes supported are: BOYSCAST fellowships, SERC student fellowships, etc. Fellowships are also awarded to undergraduate students to get first hand exposure of research in leading research laboratories. To involve young scientists (below 35 years) in national S&T development process and to provide opportunities to them for pursuing exciting and innovative research ideas an exclusive scheme for Young Scientists is being implemented by the Department.
In order to motivate bright young minds at their secondary school/ college levels, and to encourage them to stick on to a career in science, a new scheme called Kishore Vagyanik Protsahan Yojana has been initiated. Talent would be scouted through a competitive mechanism at school level and scholars would be selected for an attractive fellowship/scholarship until they pass their Masters Degree in Science. Further, in order to generate trained manpower in selected areas of science and technology, training courses, summer/winter schools were organised in theoretical chemistry, earth sciences, astronomy and astrophysics, lasers, optics, atomic and molecular physics.
Women Scientists Scheme has been launched during the year 2002 by the Department of Science and Technology. The scheme provides support to woman scientists, with or without a break in career, to pursue science in all its aspects and encourage them to continue in the scientific profession and also to contribute towards
The Department of Science and Technology under its scheme on “Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Research’ supports collaborative Research and Development projects jointly submitted by drug companies and the academics national R&D institutes. The programme aims towards the development of new drugs and cleaner process technologies for known drugs/key intermediates for drugs. The programme covers all systems of medicine – Allopathic, Ayurvedic, Homeopathic, Siddha and Unani. In addition to this, National Facilities essential to undertake R&D have also been set up under this programme. Specific mention may be made of the Medium Throughput Facility, Pharmacological Testing Facility and Centre for Pharmaco-kinetic and Metabolic Studies at CDRI, Lucknow, Immunomodulatory Potential Testing Facility at IICB, Kolkata; National Facility on Transgenic and Gene Knockout Mice at CCMB, Hyderabad; and National Centre for Bio availability at National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education & Research, Mohali. So far 45 projects including 7 national facilities have been funded by creating industry – institutional alliances among 20 institutions (national labs. and universities) and 19 drug industries. The programme has resulted filing of 12 patents in India and abroad.
The Department has guided 24 socio-economic ministries in the setting up of Science and Technology Advisory Committees (STACS) for formulation of long/short-term joint technology development programmes. For coordinating the efforts of STACs and to take stock of activities of various ministries, the Department has also set up an Inter-Sectoral S&T Advisory Committee under the Chairmanship of Secretary, DST. A quarterly newsletter STAC SCAN is being brought out by IS-STAC to disseminate information.
The Department has been catalytic in identifying, formulating and implementing a number of technology development programmes with the help of industries and socio-economic ministries. Efforts of the Department in this direction have helped in initiation of multi-institutional programmes in the emerging areas of technology. As a part of this programme, projects were continued to be supported in the areas such as instrument development, advanced materials, critical technology, sugar technology, fly ash utilisation, advanced composites and in higher technical education.
The Department has set up an autonomous body–Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC). The main objectives of TIFAC include generation of Technology Forecasting, Technology Assessment and Techno Market Survey (TMS) documents and enabling a Technology Information System. TIFAC has brought out more than 280 specialised reports covering most of the sectors of economic relevance, ranging from Agriculture to Advanced Sensors and from materials to biotechnology. These reports have also focused on the upcoming and frontier technologies like transgenic seeds, biochips, RDNA products, transgenic animal models, surface engineering, etc. The reports provide a vision and options for technology trajectories for industries, institutions, entrepreneurs and experts. TIFAC has also brought out a series of reports giving a comprehensive picture of 16 areas of scientific research carried out in our country in last 50 years.
TIFAC carried out a long-term Technology Vision (Forecasting) exercise known as “Technology Vision for India up to 2020”, covering 17 sectors important to Indian economy. The reports include realistic technology road maps for achieving desired goals as well as intermediate milestones. A few of the recommendations of these reports are being implemented through projects in different sectors. This has resulted in follow up actions on a limited scale towards demonstration projects of technology for wider replication in six identified sectors namely: Agriculture and Agro Food Sector, Road Construction and Transportation Equipment, Upgradation of Textile Machinery / Textile Industry, Health Care Services and Herbal / Natural Products, Upgradation of Science, Engineering and Professional Institutions relevant to Industry (Mission REACH), and Targeted Programmes in other important areas like Hydrogen Energy, Waste to Energy, Emerging Energy Sectors, Electric Power, Rural Connectivity, SMEs, etc.
Mission REACH has been launched by TIFAC with the objective of upgrading select science and engineering colleges so as to create Centres of Relevance and Excellence (COREs) in achieving new heights in selected institutions at par with the world’s best. 26 such centres have been set up across the country on a wide range of emerging areas of relevance to industry & society. A unique features of these TIFAC-COREs is a very active participation of Industry in the form of training programmes, research projects and consultancy. Details of Institutions/Areas, etc. could be seen on www.missionreach.org .
A Patent Facilitating Centre (PFC) has been set up in TIFAC with the objectives of introducing patent information as a vital input in the process of promotion of R&D programmes, provide patenting facilities for scientists/ technologists of the country on a sustained basis, keep a watch on developments in the areas of intellectual property rights, create awareness and understanding relating to patents and undertake studies and analysis of policy related to TRIPS Agreement and other agreements under World Trade Organisation, etc.
The Centre has been organising awareness workshops to sensitise scientists/ technologists from various universities, government, R&D institutions and industries. The PFC has also brought out two CD ROM databases containing data from 1995. The website www.indianpatents.org.in provides comprehensive details of the service and facilities provided by the PFC. The PFC has also brought out a report on patenting of micro-organisms and has developed a video programme on patent awareness titled “Patents Made Easy”.
To promote innovation among entrepreneurs, a new golden jubilee initiative called “Technopreneur Promotion Programme (TePP)” has been initiated and implemented jointly by TIFAC with DSIR. The main thrust of TePP is to tap the vast untapped innovative potential of the Indian innovators. The support is provided to projects of individual innovators towards scaling up the idea/invention/know-how/designs to working models/prototypes/ pilot plants. Besides financial support, the endeavour is to link and couple them to the most appropriate existing R&D facilities and expertise; assist them in patent search/filing of patents; interface for tying-up with financial institutions for commercial exploitation, etc.
To encourage grass-root innovators, National Innovation Foundation (NIF) of India has been established with the main goal of providing institutional support in scouting, spawning, sustaining and scaling up grassroots level green innovators and helping their transition to self supporting activities.