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Credit: Twitter of Dr Harsh Vardhan

Credit: Twitter of Dr Harsh Vardhan

Indian Ministry of Science and Technology shares accomplishments over the last four years

The Government of India, through the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, over the last four years, has been in the process of creating an all-inclusive science-driven environment. According to an official press release published on 7 June, the ministry has increased both the quality and quantity of basic research, translation research, technology development, technology transfer, innovation and startups, and has been able to commercialise indigenous technology. 

In New Delhi on the 7 June, the Minister of Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan briefed the media about the Ministry’s accomplishments over the last four years. Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the Ministry is taking steps to solve problems in the areas of water, energy, health, environment, climate, agriculture and food. Furthermore, the country is preparing to launch several initiatives including cyber physical system, projects involving AI (Artificial Intelligence), supercomputing, deep ocean exploration, and biopharmaceuticals, among others. The aim is to ready India to able to participate in the highly competitive global market.

According to the Minster, the Government has also been able to integrate India’s scientific and national opportunities and priorities through digital projects such as Make in India, Start-up India, Digital India, the Clean India Mission (Swachh Bharat Abhiyan) and the Healthy India initiative (Swasth Bharat). The Minister said the Government has highlighted the need to make more connections and stronger ties with industry, education, and line ministries and with other countries. 

The press release mentioned that over the last four years, the Ministry has participated in a number of international projects, including its collaboration in the LIGO project for gravitational wave detection, becoming an Associate Member State of CERN, and establishing of India-Israel Industrial Research and Development and Technological Innovation Fund, etc. 

The investments for science, technology and associated areas have gone up during the last four years (2014-2015 to 2018-2019) as compared to five years earlier (2009-2010 to 2013-2014). The press release noted that the budget allocation for the Department of Science & Technology is IN ₹19,764 crore (around US $2.9 billion) which is a 90% increase. Similarly, there was a 65% increase in funding for the Department of Biotechnology; almost a 43% increase for the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and a 26% increase for Ministry of Earth Sciences

Among the list of the Ministry’s achievements, one of the most important accomplishments has been the advancement and transfer of over 800 technologies to the industry. The Ministry has been able to create stronger ties and establish better cooperation between intra-ministry laboratories and inter-ministry institutions. For departments like Defence, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Power and Renewable Energy, etc., scientific laboratories have become important hubs for problem-resolution.

In the Agricultural sector, the use of science and technology to yield higher crop productivity has made a big impact on the rural economy. The release stated that at present, under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, 24 million farmers are being provided with agro-meteorological advisories, and by July 2018, another 16 million farmers are expected to receive the aid. The prompt weather data and meteorological information has made farming activities more efficient and has led to a positive economic impact of about IN ₹50,000 crores (around US $7.42 billion) in national GDP.

On 1 June 2018, the Ministry of Earth Sciences commissioned the Ensemble Weather Prediction system to generate block level weather forecasts, the technology was implemented with the help of the new super computers, Pratyush and Mihir.

Similarly, fishermen in rural India are given information on potential fishing zones, on fish availability to increase productivity. These advisories reach more than 400,000 users every day.

The CSIR has launched a project for the development of Chemical Intermediaries and Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API), the aim is to lower India’s dependence on imports, particularly from China. 

The Government, under the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has also launched a number of schemes to deal with water shortage and to improve the quality of water supply in several parts of the country.

Over the four years, the Ministry of Science and Technology has been able to increase its manpower strength which the it regards as the foundation of research and development.

The released stated that the Ministry has supported around 1.1 million students, teachers and researchers. It has also launched various programs for young scientists, and has successfully attracted more than 600 experts of Indian origin from overseas to return to the country. 

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