The Union science minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, has said that a Centre-state council will be created for collaboration of the governments on policies related to science and innovation. This is in line with the collaborative approach that the government has adopted for the formulation of the new Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy – 2020.
“The new policy proposes the institutionalisation of Centre-State science, technology and innovation engagements. This will a permanent pathway for percolation of science to the grassroot levels. There is a need to identify national priorities that will be driven by the needs of the states. Through formal linkages like this, we hope to carry out continuous highest level of engagements, extensive capacity-building exercises, technology development support programmes, and other related activities,” the minister said on Thursday at the Centre-state consultation on the policy.
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He added that such a mechanism will also increase communication and avoid duplication of efforts.
“So far, there have been four science and technology policies in the country, but what we are formulating right now is unique. It is completely decentralised. This is the first time the state governments are directly involved in the formulation of the policy,” said Dr Akhilesh Gupta, who heads the secretariat formulating the new policy.
The consultation meeting was attended by representatives of 26 out of 28 states and four out of nine Union Territories.
Among those who attented were the chief minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma, deputy chief minister of Manipur, Yumnam Joykumar Singh, deputy chief minister of Tripura, Jishnu Dev Varma, and deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Dinesh Sharma.
Sangma suggested that a deep interest in science needs to be cultivated from a young age and organising competitions can motivate children. “We focus a lot on dance, singing, cricket, but there is no competition for innovation and science. Young minds should be trained to innovate and such competitions could incentivise them. We are going to start these competitions in our state,” he said.
“Some of the states suggested setting up a co-funding mechanism with the Centre. Strengthening of the existing state level councils under the department of science and technology was also recommended. When it came to the quality of education in state institutes, some suggested that central institutes like IITs and Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research could collaborate with state universities in the respective states where they are. Another suggestion was to encourage innovation as a national policy and even at school level,” said Dr Gupta.
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