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doi:10.1038/nindia.2013.193 Published online 3 January 2013

New science policy seeks to put India among world's top five

Subhra Priyadarshini S

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh unveiling India's science, technology and innovation policy.
© PIB

India unveiled its new science, technology and innovation policy today outlining an ambitious plan to catapult the country into the league of the world's top five scientific superpowers by the turn of the decade.

Unveiling the policy at the centenary session of the Indian Science Congress in Kolkata, India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed hope that the country can achieve this by stimulating research, developing young leaders in science, roping in private sector participation and harnessing international collaboration.

"It is an ambitious goal. It aims to produce and nurture talent in science, to stimulate research in our universities, to develop young leaders in the field of science, to reward performance, to create a policy environment for greater private sector participation in research and innovation and to forge international alliances and collaborations to meet the national agenda," he said.

The policy — India's fourth since her Independence in 1947 — has been prepared after extensive consultation with scientists and industry representatives and public feedback. It is an improvement over the earlier policies since it recognises, for the first time, innovation as not just an appendage to science and technology but as having assumed centre stage in the developmental goals of the country. The new policy seeks to focus on both "people for science and science for people", Singh said.

The policy would promote proliferation of scientific temper, make careers in science, research and innovation attractive, establish world class R&&D infrastructure in select frontier areas of science and link science, research and innovation with inclusive economic growth.

To position India among the top five global scientific powers by 2020, India would look at migrating R&&D outputs into commercial applications by replicating successful models as well as establishment of new structures, Singh said. The country's 12th 5-year-plan outlines a  number of initiatives to help the policy meet its ambitious targets. * Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the Indian Science Congress — being attended by around 10,000 delegates, including six Nobel Laureates and 60 international scientists — India's science and technology minister Jaipal Reddy said the Prime Minister had taken "great personal interest" in drafting it.

The policy "may sound aspirational but is doable", he said.

The policy notes that the Composite Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of Indian publications during the last three years has been around 12±1%. The percentage of Indian publications in the top 1 per cent impact making journals is only 2.5 percent.

"India should aim to increase its share of scientific publications from the current 3.5 per cent to over 7 cent and quadruple the number of papers in top 1 per cent journals from the current levels by 2020," the policy document says. The citation impact of Indian publications must improve and match at least the global averages, it points out.

Initiatives under the new policy should enable this to exceed the global average by 2020. Within the next five years the total number of full-time equivalent of R&&D personnel must increase by at least 66 per cent of the present strength, it adds.

To mark the hundred years of the congress, which held its first session in the same city Kolkata (then Calcutta) in January 1914, a comme morative stamp was also unveiled by the President of India Pranab Mukherjee.