The State Science and Technology Councils can provide a platform to address the real world problems of India but are facing numerous hurdles. What are they?
The State Science and Technology Councils (SSTC) were formed to spearhead the use of science and technology (S&T) for regional problems and to foster “scientific temper” within states.
Hurdles faced by SSTC
- All the SSTCs put together barely Rs 100 crore and the state funding is scarce. For example, the Maharastra SSTC has an annual budget of about Rs 60 crore. Compare this with the Rs 200 crore research grants that IIT Bombay alone receives from central agencies, with little to show.
- Much of the SSTC budget is disbursed in the same patronising “project proposal and approval” method of the DST, rather than through sectoral engagement and people-driven problem identification.
- As a result, chronic issues in rural electricity or public health or disasters such as the recent Sangli floods are never analysed since they are not seen as scientific problems but social, political or implementation problems to be undertaken by NGOs or the concerned state agency.
- Science and research are focused merely on about a few fashionable research areas. It has become more about the practice of observation, analysis, reporting and argumentation, which may happen within a laboratory or outside it, and which speaks not only to scientists but to administrators, people, their representatives and the civil society at large.
- As a result it is not recognized that “why is my bus late” is as much a question for science to address as “why does a solar eclipse happen”. Only such an approach will enable us to fix our public transport, analyse the droughts of Marathwada or manage the sea of solid waste which drowns us all.
The above hurdles faced by the SSTCs primarily arise from the largely unaccountable bureaucracy science of the Department of Science and Technology and other central agencies.
This bureaucracy lead approach has made science of nuclear, space and defence scientists as a science of “national priorities” completely negating the socialistic nature