Science and Technology Interface

The most important consideration should be the integration of science and technology. We have created boundaries between science and technology and between physical sciences and biological sciences. Even in the management of higher education, the All India Technical Council of Education (AICTE) look after technical and professional and university Grants Commission (UGC) looks after science education. We should either merge these entities or allow both to look after science and technology in the institutes associated with these bodies. If we separate science from technology are getting complicated; without integrating technology with science we will not be able to translate research into tangible products and create value.

As an example breeding superior crops for ushering in a second green revolution requires both knowledge of basic and applied biology. Future breeders will require a sound knowledge of molecular biology, genetics, bio-chemistry, mathematics and statistics, skills in computational work and handling laboratory equipment. Unfortunately, such education is not being imparted nor are there concerted efforts to create interdisciplinary teams to use the knowledge of molecular biology and genomic to produce novel seeds, which would require lesser inputs of water and chemicals and provide higher yield as compared to the present varieties and hybrids.

To take an example from chemistry, those who want to research new drug molecules or pesticides need some knowledge of biological sciences as a large number of chemical are being synthesized and studies for use on biological entities. Research in the field of nano-materials requires a sound knowledge of both chemistry and physics and a feel for technology.

To create a strong science-technology interface at the University of Delhi, They have initiated three M-Tech courses-nuclear physics and process development—to train students in areas that require knowledge of both science and technology. Students with undergraduate degree in natural sciences are admitted in these three-year courses. We hope this will set a new trend in the country in developing a strong science-technology interface.

Research is conducted both for satisfying curiosity and for generating value. Research that satisfies curiosity is important but research that creates values is even more important. Indian needs strong research and development in areas that will generate value—new seeds, new drugs, electronic devices, new materials for the developing new tangible products, participation of industry in research and development programme, it is the industry which will scale up, commercialize, and create wealth. Bodies like department of sciences and technology, department of bio-technology and council of scientific and industrial research have taken step in involving industry in research projects. However, larger efforts are required.

Both basic science and technology development research can be improved by improving our competitive research grant system provided by the departments of ministry of science and technology. Submitted research projects should be approved or rejected in no more than four months. To encourage industry-university puts one repee in a research project, the government agencies should put double that amount.