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India-Prospects in Science and Technology

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Some observers of the Indian science and technology community, while acknowledging its strong points, complain that there is a lack of communication and coordination among the numerous science and technology institutes. They also have commented that because of a lack of materials and purpose, the quality of some government laboratories is low and that quality-control research is found primarily in the private sector. Although little movement is being made toward privatization of science and technology research, the government is trying to bring private industry--where there is more innovation and competitiveness--into the research process. In the 1990s, a considerable amount of discussion and experimentation is occurring in the area of technology transfer from fundamental research institutes to the marketplace.

On a more fundamental level, it has been observed that there often is, at best, a tenuous link between major financial investment in research and development and the results enjoyed by India's society and economy. Despite major achievements in such fields as agriculture, telecommunications, health care, and nuclear energy--many of which derived from foreign technology inputs--parts of India's population face malnutrition, depend on bullock carts for transportation, suffer from diseases wiped out in many other nations, and use cow dung and wood for fuel. Although the government has decentralized to some extent, inordinate government control over planning and operation of research institutions continues, and the weak link between the research and industrial sectors persists. However, with its sizable domestic- and foreign-trained base of scientists and engineers and considerable participation in the scientific programs of official international organizations, India has immense potential for self-fulfillment and technological aid to other Asian nations in the early twenty-first century.

In the mid-1990s, the Indian economy appears to be at a crossroads. The economic system established after independence, which was marked by a large public sector, a tightly regulated private sector, and a limited role for foreign trade, is under attack from many quarters. However, the extent to which the government is willing and able to make changes remains unclear, and the opposition of vested interests to liberalization makes it likely that reforms will continue to take place only gradually.

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A good survey of the Indian economy from independence until the mid-1980s is V.N. Balasubramanyam's The Economy of India . The various essays in The Indian Economy: Recent Development and Future Prospects , edited by Robert E.B. Lucas and Gustav F. Papanek, cover the same period and also evaluate the early stage of the "new economic policy" of the mid-1980s. For more recent developments, the periodical literature is the most useful, especially the articles in Economic and Political Weekly [Bombay]. Also helpful are Bimal Jalan's India's Economic Crisis , which covers the 1990 balance of payments crisis, and the volume he edited, The Indian Economy: Problems and Prospects , which reviews India's economic conditions since 1947. India in Transition: Freeing the Economy , by Jagdish Bhagwati, is also an important contribution to the analysis of India's economic reforms.

The most current and easily accessible sources on the economy are two publications of the Economist Intelligence Unit in London: Country Profile: India, Nepal , an annual survey of the economy; and Country Report: India, Nepal , a quarterly publication that includes the latest economic information. The annual Economic Survey , prepared by India's Ministry of Finance, reviews economic developments in each fiscal year. The Ministry of Planning's Statistical Abstract , which is published at irregular intervals, provides considerable statistical information, including the most recent released by the government.

There are numerous works on Indian science and technology. A.K. Bag's Science and Civilization in India , Abdur Rahman's Science and Technology in Indian Culture , and the Directory of Scientific Research Institutions in India , published by the Indian National Scientific Documentation Centre, are useful. Also very useful are annual and other reports from various scientific institutions, such as the Indian Institute of Science, and government science agencies, such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Indian Space Research Organisation. Several articles by William A. Blanpied are helpful critiques of India's scientific and technology developments. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of September 1995

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