Countries around the world have been making attempts at re-orienting themselves in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Government of India in relation to this has flagged a ‘New Science, Technology and Innovation Policy’, 2020 (STIP). The policy is aimed at tackling the challenges faced by India recently in the social, healthcare and business sectors. STIP which was announced in 2013 is being worked on for the first time since then. New approaches will be formulated by creating a secretariat with in-house experts, under the Ministry of Science and Technology. With around 15,000 stakeholders taking part in the project, policy knowledge and data support units have been set up at DST (Technology Bhavan) to coordinate the complete process.
According to officials in the government, the new STIP has been conceptualised as a decentralised formation to reorient its priorities for larger socio-economic welfare, especially in the post-covid world. STIP has been imagined in the form of 4-inter related tracks, which will cover all its stakeholders. These are:
Track 1 – expert and public consultation from a larger pool of opinions, through the platform of ‘Science Policy Forum’. There are 6 ‘unique activities’ under this track.
Track 2 – thematic consultation in order to arrive at recommendations based on scientific inputs. 21 focused groups have constituted for this, which include themes like ‘agriculture, water and food security’, ‘education’, ‘capacity development’, ‘health’, ‘sustainable technology’, etc.
Track 3 – consultations with ministries and states’ officials, who will be nominated on behalf of different state departments.
Track 4 – apex level consultation involving multiple stakeholders. This level will have focused deliberations with (a) young scientists (b) civil organisations (c) scientific ministries and agencies (d) socio-economic ministries and department (e) state government and (f) global partners.
Running on a tight timeline, the activities of both Track 1 and 2 were begun in the months of May-June, while the information sessions with thematic experts involved in Track 2 was done in a virtual meet on 12th June, 2020. Draft recommendations of these rounds were submitted on 18th July, 2020.
This kind of a public consultation involving personalities from numerous fields – both experts and young researchers - is expected at producing best results. Such an integrated and a ‘bottom-up’ approach will be used towards solving pertinent issues such as ecological problems, climate change, etc. STIP is the fifth such policy that India has initiated, the others being Science Policy Resolution 1958; The Technology Policy Statement 1983; The Science and Technology Policy 2003; and the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013.