It is time to democratize the science by focusing on the problems of the surrounding environment. Discuss

Published: October 16, 2019

India which is a land of diversity is facing many challenges ranging from managing floods and droughts to designing better timetables for city buses or developing biodegradable paints for Ganapati idol makers.

Addressing Surrounding Problems

The primary responsibility of solving them lies with scientists and bureaucrats. The systematic study of these problems and their solutions will lead not only to better development outcomes but also new science, enterprises and jobs. But this is not recognized as a mandate by the elite institutions.

As a result, the industry is forced to depend on imports for most of its sophisticated machinery and the state agencies are depending on expensive international consultants even in traditional areas such as irrigation.

International companies are engaged to fill the pot-holes, and foreign universities are preparing smart city plans and assess our drinking water systems. These universities which are solving hard real-life problems know that engaging in real-world problems is the road to “world-class” research and international rankings.

Way Forward

A large number of developmental problems of India such as water or public health are on the State List. Unfortunately, the state governments do not make any provision for research in their budget because it may be too disruptive, or that they do not find viable partner institutions.

The best way to address these gaps is by engaging the higher education institutions through State Science and Technology Councils to enable them to address the problems of surrounding environment. This engagement with the surrounding environment is a way to democratize science.

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