Monday, April 29, 2013

Just published "India: Science and Technology" v.2

India: Science and Technology


Rs.3500 | $140 | PB | 600 Pages

ISBN: 9789382264743

Publisher: Cambridge University Press India

Download the Leaflet

In the modern globalized world, the economic development of a country is premised on its ability to develop, adapt and harness its potential to innovate. Most of the governments in developing and emerging economies, including India, are proactive in initiating policies that would promote a culture of innovation. India: Science & Technology, Volume 2 intends to identify the nature and extent of innovative activities in the country and the lacunae in the innovation support mechanism. It also suggests suitable S&T interventions in the policy matrix in order that India could come to the forefront in innovation activities. The book discusses following themes: • S&T and Human Resources • Innovation Support System • S&T and Industry • S&T Outputs and Patents • Rural Development and S&T Strategies While the content and approach of these themes differs, innovation occupies the centre stage in each of these themes. Salient features • Analysis of scenario of S&T education in India • Analysis of organizational arrangement for promotion of technological innovation • Facets of innovation activities in the realm of manufacturing and service sector • Nature of innovation activities in MSME sector • Intensity of knowledge creation and utilization • S&T strategy for poverty alleviation • S&T strategies for agri/farm-based livelihoods • S&T strategies for non-farm/rural industrial development

Unit 1: Science & Technology: Human Resource
Unit 2: Science & Technology and Innovation Support System
Unit 3: Science & Technology and Industry
Unit 4: Science & Technology: Output and Patents
Unit 5: S&T and Rural Development: Strategies and Capacities

Further Details:

Thursday, April 25, 2013

IIAS Shimla invites applications for Award of Fellowships 2013

Indian Institute of Advanced Study
Rashtrapati Nivas, Shimla-171005
Advertisement No. 6/2013

Award of Fellowships
The IIAS invites applications for the award of Fellowships for advanced research in the following areas:
(a) Social, Political and Economic Philosophy;
(b) Comparative Indian Literature (including Ancient, Medieval, Modern Folk and Tribal);
(c) Comparative Studies in Philosophy and Religion;
(d) Comparative Studies in History (including Historiography and Philosophy of History);
(e) Education, Culture, Arts including performing Arts and Crafts;
(f) Fundamental Concepts and Problems of Logic and Mathematics;
(g) Fundamental Concepts and Problems of Natural and Life Sciences;
(h) Studies in Environment;
(i) Indian Civilization in the context of Asian Neighbours; and
(j) Problems of Contemporary India in the context of National Integration and Nation-building.

For details & further updates please visit our website:
The prescribed application form can be downloaded from this website of the Institute. The applications on the prescribed form may be sent to the
Secretary, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla – 171005 by 25th May, 2013.
Applications can also be made online. Only applications in the prescribed application form would be considered by the Institute.
Source: Economic & Political Weekly, April 27, 2013, 48(17).

EPW Article "Making Indian Cities Slum-Free: Vision and Operationalisation" by Amitabh Kundu, JNU

Making Indian Cities Slum-Free: Vision and Operationalisation
by Amitabh Kundu
Economic & Political Weekly, 48(17), pp. 15-18, April 27, 2013

Abstract: The plan of making urban India slum-free faced serious difficulties in the Eleventh Plan period and it looks like these will persist in the Twelfth Plan period as well. This article points out that the schemes in operation lack a reliable framework for identifying non-tenable slums and legitimate slum households that are entitled to get dwelling units. Further, the design of the Rajiv Awas Yojana betrays a big-city bias to attract global capital, and there is no clear road map for its time-bound implementation.

The Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) is a major flagship programme of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government, designed to build on the groundwork carried out during the Eleventh Plan period and launched on a national scale during the Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-17). It projects the vision of a slum-free India, its primary objective being enabling poor urban families to realise their dream of owning a house that has a proper land title and access to basic amenities. The initial years of its operation have, however, created diverse expectations in different quarters. The real estate and builder's lobby, which apprehends that the housing bubble is about to burst, wants it to give a boost to construction activity. The banking-cum-financing sector, uncertain of the demand for housing loans and their recovery, believes there will be a substantial increase in interest subsidies and a streamlining of the mortgage market. The upper and middle classes hope that their cities will be "sanitised" when the programme is implemented, with slums disappearing either through upgradation or eviction.

The Large City Bias
Small and medium towns have been excluded from the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched during the Tenth Five-Year Plan for improving urban infrastructure, and now from the RAY, despite there being clear evidence of a high incidence of poverty and slum-like conditions, alongside serious service deficiencies in them. The focus is on large cities because the political economy of the country necessitates improving their environmental conditions to make them attractive to global business. This bias is also implicit in the development of a database, with the Census of India collecting information on slums only from the larger cities until 2001. In addition, reliable data on slums from the National Sample Survey are available only for cities with a population exceeding a million.

Problems in Defining Tenability
Granting full property rights to slum-dwellers and enacting state legislation for this are mandatory requirements under the RAY, except in regions with community control and ownership of land. The mission is based on the principle of inclusion, implying no eviction and in-situ development unless a site is identified, after following the due process, as "untenable". If a site is found to be untenable, an alternative site must be found in consultation with the urban communities concerned and, as far as possible, it should be within the same ward or zone to minimise adverse effects on livelihoods, community assets, and access to health and education facilities. Vacant residential land in the same or adjacent areas must be identified and used for accommodating the people in untenable slums. All this to be operationalised through a slum-free city plan of action (SFCPOA), which is to be prepared by the urban local body or any other competent authority, in consultation with personnel in the state government departments concerned, technical experts, and the resident community.
Slums located on environmentally hazardous sites such as the banks of rivers and ponds, and hilly and marshy terrain would be untenable as they pose a threat to human life and public health. Taking everything into consideration, only a part of the slum may be declared hazardous. Besides, ecologically-sensitive sites such as mangroves, and national parks and sanctuaries are to be considered untenable as habitation there will have serious negative implications for society at large. However, slums located on land reserved for non-residential
use such as industries, and more importantly, for major "infrastructure projects for public purpose" such as roads, railways and other facilities in a city master plan must be considered semi-tenable. Such land often remains undeveloped for years and a review of their use is needed while preparing the SFCPOA. This can strengthen the process for deciding (a) changes in present use to residential use (passed by a standing committee of the urban local body), and (b) swapping uses for sites within the same zone of the city to make adequate land available for in-situ slum upgradation. Such decisions must be based on planning norms, taking both risk and public interest into account. Unfortunately, the process has not begun within a well-defined framework. The ambiguity in defining tenability, the absence of procedures to determine hazardous and ecologically sensitive locations, and different interpretations of what is "infrastructure for public purpose" have resulted in decisions being taken on a case-by-case basis while preparing SFCPOAs.
The process can be operationalised only if there are clear policy directives defining the ground rules at the national and state levels. Standard criteria need to be proposed at the higher levels without any ambiguity and then applied in the field by taking the local context into account. Attempts to do that at local levels, as the experience of preparing city development plans under the mission reveals, have faced enormous problems and conflicts of interest, often leading to a legal impasse. The categories of hazardous or ecologically sensitive locations and public purpose are used to arbitrarily evict slums. Several state and local governments have virtually declared all slums on government land to be hazardous and untenable. Such decisions need to be taken in a uniform manner across cities and states, following a procedure that is transparent, participatory, and fair.
Cities must be encouraged to review their present system and make it comparable within and across states. Many of the slums on non-hazardous lands that have been declared objectionable could be developed in situ by changing the present land use. Also, a few of the sites considered hazardous can be restructured and redeveloped to resolve current problems. However, if relocation is absolutely necessary, this would have to be done by following a clearly articulated process. The SFCPOA should make a provision to provide all non-tenable slums and homeless persons with alternative sites close to their present location. The policy on slums located on and in proximity to water bodies, railway tracks, industrial and commercial land, and so on must also be laid down with clarity and transparency, and made mandatory for all the agencies concerned.

Identification of Beneficiaries and Affordable Carpet Area
Identifying and targeting beneficiaries is most critical to preventing subsidy leakages. The guidelines for implementing the RAY have to be specific in terms of slum mapping and giving land titles to households so that states and cities do not interpret them differently. City commissioners now find it difficult to undertake this by managing local-level conflicts, especially in the absence of unambiguous criteria. The National Advisory Council (NAC) has recommended that the process of mapping settlements, and surveying and listing eligible households should be undertaken by district collectors, through committees comprising officials of the local and state governments, members of local slums and homeless settlements, youth groups, social work institutions, and so on. Settlements and households that feel they have been left out should be free to appeal.
In the in-situ upgradation and resettlement programme in Mumbai, the agencies of the state and local governments have worked with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres using multiple parameters to determine each household's eligibility for subsidised housing. Information on land and land-related schemes are managed by agencies at the district level and the land vests with the state revenue department. Consequently, the involvement of the district authority and the state government departments concerned is important to finalising and providing a stamp of approval for the plan of action. Unfortunately, due to the absence of systematic land records, non-transparent deals, and ownership conflicts between different landowning departments, it is difficult at present to answer questions of ownership of slum land in several places. Immediate steps must be taken to prepare an inventory of land and to organise land records.
A related issue is defining the minimum acceptable dwelling unit for slum-dwellers that is affordable, given their low capacity to repay and the limited resources available under the mission. The report of the high-level task force on a2ffordable housing for all (2008) skirted the issue and criticised the idea of one size fitting all. While it talked of a carpet area of 300 to 600 square feet for economically weaker sections (EWS) and low income groups (LIG), the figure was 1,200 square feet for middle income households. Further, it thought that the cost must not exceed four times the annual gross income, or that the equated monthly instalment (EMI) must not exceed 30% of a household's monthly income. Taking an average urban household of five members, the total monthly expenditure for households at the poverty line of the Tendulkar Committee (2009) would be Rs 4,500. As per the task force, the cost of the unit must not exceed Rs 2,16,000 and the EMI should be only Rs 1,350.
The real challenge would be keeping the cost of a flat with 300 square feet to Rs 2,20,000 in large cities. This would necessitate making land available free of charge and heavy subsidies for material cost and interest payment. Unfortunately, the state has failed to make institutional arrangements for providing the required land and capital. Banks and micro-finance institutions are reluctant to lend to the poor under state guarantee programmes as they are apprehensive of politicians sanctioning amnesty schemes. Also, guidelines have not been drafted for them to ensure that slum-dwellers can access credit with an interest subsidy in situations where a clear land title cannot be given before the construction of the house is completed. Institutional finance is not seen as the best option by the poor who continue to borrow from neighbours, relatives, and friends. While there is no clear command to the banking sector, and cheaper technologies of construction are not being worked out, the state is unwilling to lower the carpet area to a realistic level. No major policy is contemplated to give incentives to big as well as small builders to create housing stock on a massive scale at an affordable cost. This suggests the absence of any definitive thinking on the part of state agencies, if not a serious deficit in their commitment.
It is true that employment generation for the targeted households through the RAY would enhance their paying capacity. Yet, Rs 1,350 (the task force has suggested Rs 1,500-1,800 per month), or 30% of a poor household's income, going as an instalment to repay a housing loan will not be affordable to the poor. The NAC has rightly suggested that the amount needs to be worked out on the basis of studies on the average income or consumption expenditure of slum residents and the erratic or irregular nature of their earnings. It argued that it should not exceed 25% of the average income and there must be a special subsidy for single women, and the aged, disabled and homeless.

Cities are required to contribute their share of resources for obtaining central funds under the RAY. As a consequence, they incline towards the public-private partnership (PPP) model, especially when it comes to premium land at central locations. The temptation is to shift slums from these lands as they are a major source of revenue. Under both the JNNURM and the RAY, slum-dwellers are being shifted to peripheries where land is cheaper, while the land in the central city is used for high-rise apartments for the upper and middle classes and commercial developments. Densification of premium-value inner city land has an impact on the area's carrying capacity, transport, environment, and infrastructure that are generally not incorporated into the planning framework.
A country growing at above 8% per annum for many years has the financial capability to provide minimum acceptable shelter to its slum population, many of them engaged in activities linked to the global market. The per capita allocation of funds under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) is the same as that under the JNNURM, but the latter covers a much smaller population and seven times more resources are available per household. The question is whether it is possible to work out a system of cost sharing between the central, state, and local governments and with private agencies, including households, in a manner that the project can be implemented with efficiency and a sense of urgency. The answer is emphatically yes. A scheme must therefore be worked out among the agencies concerned for sharing the cost of providing land and construction so that dwelling units are built as per the minimum requirements and are affordable to slum-dwellers and the houseless population.

Two Objectives of RAY
The RAY has two main objectives – (a) improving the conditions in existing slums, and (b) preventing the growth of future slums. As for the first objective, the RAY guidelines place a welcome emphasis on in-situ development rather than relocation of slums, and recognise the importance of security of tenure in preparing SFCPOAs at the state and city levels. Since the availability of land is critical for housing the poor, the central funds are made available only to states and cities that can provide land with property rights. This was generally considered necessary even under Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) and the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP), the components of the JNNURM for large and small cites respectively. Importantly, the RAY has a limit of 10% on slum households that can be relocated in sharp contrast to BSUP where nearly 40% of households were relocated. This limit needs to be worked out on the basis of a realistic assessment of ground conditions on the tenability of slums and then be implemented firmly without many exemptions. For this, all the state and local agencies that own slum land must be brought within the policy framework of the RAY.
The second objective of the RAY would require a strategy that prevents the formation of slums in urban areas through redressing failures in the formal land market. One must realise that it is possible to achieve this goal without much difficulty by strengthening the legal, administrative, and land surveillance systems and allowing the market to function strictly on the basis of paying capacity. The guidelines, however, make it obligatory to reserve 25% to 40% of land in city development plans for new social housing stock to accommodate the future inflow of poor migrants. Not many state and local governments are willing or able to comply with this and it means that more than 50% of the mission funds remain unutilised. An official drive will be needed in all cities and towns to identify government land that has been encroached on by mafias, and land that lies unutilised with public agencies or is under unwarranted litigation to obtain the required extent from within the system. Speedy implementation of the programme on a national scale is needed to cover the total slum population in a time-bound manner, without which the mission would be an empty dream.
The RAY is a well-intentioned programme but unlike the MGNREGS it has no formal constitutional guarantee. It may be unreasonable to expect a country that has not yet been able to constitutionally mandate freedom from hunger to all its citizens to provide a right to housing. What, however, is a matter of serious concern is that in contrast to the MGNREGS, the operational details of implementing the RAY at the state and city levels have not been worked out. The scope and coverage of the mission remains ambiguous so much so that in a few states only officially "notified" slums or people arriving in the city before a certain cut-off date are considered eligible under the RAY. The surveys conducted in the first three years of its existence by the ministry concerned lack a macro perspective and have not been able to resolve local-level issues to do with implementation. The absence of a road map for implementing the mission in a time-bound manner in the whole country or even in a selected set of cities has resulted in a lot of uncertainty.

Amitabh Kundu ( teaches at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.


Friday, April 12, 2013

King’s India Institute -- PhD Studentships 2013

King's India Institute -- PhD Studentships 2013

The Tagore Centre for Global Thought at the King's India Institute invites applications from researchers who wish to pursue a PhD in the field of modern Indian intellectual history/history of ideas.  Two fully-funded scholarships, each tenable for a duration of 3 years, are available, and applicants for these scholarships must have an unconditional offer of admission to the PhD programme at the King's India Institute, King's College London to be eligible for this studentship.  Applications may be resident anywhere in the world, but should be Indian citizens and with an intention to return to India to pursue a career in higher education or research upon successful completion of their PhD.  Candidates may be interviewed during the selection process.  The scholarship will cover full tuition fees, a subsistence grant, and research materials allowance.

Eligibility criteria can be found on this link:

Applicants who wish to be considered for this scholarship should
Complete the online PhD application form (https:/ on the King's College London website
Send via e-mail one sample of written material (20 pages, 1.5 line spacing) with a covering letter to the Administrator at

Closing date:  10 June 2013

Research Visit for 1 Semester
Two PhD visiting studentships, tenable for one semester each, to be spent at the King's India Institute, King's College London are available to students already registered for a full-time PhD programme in a recognised Indian university in the field of modern Indian intellectual history/history of ideas.  Applicants should be Indian citizens, and may be interviewed during the selection process.  The studentship will cover travel expenses, accommodation for 3 months, and a subsistence allowance.
For semester dates, please go to
Applicants who would like to be considered for this studentship should send one sample of written material (20 pages, 1.5 line spacing) with a covering letter to the Administrator at


The Takshashila's Graduate Certificate in Public Policy

The Takshashila's GCPP: Graduate Certificate in Public Policy

An intensive 12-week online networked learning programme that gives you the foundations of public policy analysis, economic reasoning, advocacy and governance.
Open to talented graduates & senior undergraduates from any discipline and from any professional background.
Suitable for dynamic individuals who want to make a difference in the public sphere: in government, politics, NGOs, media and private corporations. Learn from a top class faculty.
Join a network of dynamic professionals engaged in public policy.
Admissions open for our fifth intake. For more information and online application visit

Tagore Centre for Global Thought - Research Visit @ King's College London

Tagore Centre for Global Thought Research Visit

Eligibility criteria
  • Open to residents of India
  • Applicants must be Indian citizens already be registered for a full-time PhD programme in a recognised Indian university in the field of modern Indian intellectual history/history of ideas.
  • Applicable subjects: All Subjects that fall within the remit of the King's India Institute
Application details
Applications may be submitted from 09-Apr-2013 until 01-May-2013

Information about the funding
Two PhD visiting studentships, tenable for one semester each to be spent at the King's India Institute, King's College London, are available to students already registered for a full-time PhD programme in a recognised Indian university in the field of modern Indian intellectual history/history of ideas. The studentship will cover travel expenses, accommodation for 3 months, and a subsistence allowance.

Value of award
The studentship will cover travel expenses, accommodation for 3 months, and a subsistence allowance.

Application procedure
Applicants who want to be considered for this studentship should send one sample of written material (20 pages, 1.5 line space) with a covering letter to Dr Nilanjan Sarkar at
Contact details:

Funding provider: Tagore Centre for Global Thought, King's College London


EPW Article "STI Policy 2013: High on Goals, Low on Commitment" by V V Krishna

Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013: High on Goals, Low on Commitment
by V V Krishna
Economic & Political Weekly, 48(16), pp. 15-19, April 20, 2013

Abstract: The Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013 sets a target to increase R&D expenditure to 2% of gross domestic product, this through public-private partnerships. But, compared to China, where is the commitment to R&D? India's innovation potential is grossly underutilised. The small and medium enterprises in the industrial clusters are yet to be effectively served by the formal R&D institutes. The universities as centres of advanced learning and research suffer from official neglect. There has been little effort to set up technology parks linked to them in their vicinity. Civilian R&D has, at most, tenuous links with strategic R&D (defence, atomic energy and space). With all these handicaps, will STIP 2013 help create a robust national innovation system?

The much awaited science, technology and innovation policy (STIP) 2013 was announced by the government at the centenary sessions of the Indian Science Congress held at Kolkata during 3-9 January 2013. Though the realisation had come a decade and a half late, we have now entered the "club" of advanced and a select group of emerging economies that have national innovation policies. The discourse on innovation after the declaration of 2010-20 as the "Decade of Innovation", deliberations at the National Innovation Council (NIC) constituted in 2010, and public consultations called by the Ministry of Science and Technology, all seem to have had some bearing on the new STIP. Compared to the Science and Technology Policy of 2003, STIP 2013 is a step forward in attempting to forge the links between science, technology and innovation policy. In doing so, the policy has put forward some ideas and proposals.
The policy aims to enhance the private sector's role in the national science, technology and innovation system through the public-private partnership (PPP) mode and thereby attain the target as regards total expenditure on research and development (R&D) of 2% of gross domestic product. Henceforth, the private sector will be treated at par with public institutions in accessing public funds for R&D via all research and innovation policy measures and instruments. The new policy will promote mechanisms such as a "Risky Idea Fund" and a "Small Idea, Small Money" scheme to capitalise on the existing proposals such as the "Inclusive Innovation Fund" of the NIC and the experiences of the National Innovation Foundation and Honey Bee Network in grass-roots innovations. Non-governmental organisations will be given a major task to deliver and diffuse rural technologies. The government intends to establish a new National Science, Technology and Innovation Foundation in the PPP mode to fund some ambitious projects.
There appears to be some focus on the demand side of innovation as well as in the linking up of agricultural R&D policy with national R&D policy. The policy seeks to increase the number of full-time research and development personnel by two-thirds within five years. It also seeks to increase publications from the current 3.5% of the global share to around 7% by 2020. Not only this, but the policy aims at increasing the publication record in the world's top 1% of journals fourfolds. Having laid some focus on innovation, and this being an innovation policy, it is rather strange that the document has nothing to say about improving our dismal record of patents. Implicit in the document is the underlying idea of a "linear model of innovation". Whilst the new policy seeks to lay its fingers on a range of issues and sectors, there are some glaring missing links towards the making of a dynamic science, technology and innovation system.

Where Is Commitment to R&D?
From the time the United Progressive Alliance-I regime came to power, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has publicly announced the intention to increase the gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) to 2% of GDP. He reiterated this commitment every year since 2004 at the annual ceremonial Indian Science Congress plenary sessions just as he did this year in 2013. In the last eight years, Indian GERD to GDP either stagnated at a little less than 1% of GDP or even declined when adjusted for inflation. During the same period the Chinese figure witnessed a jump from 1% to 1.5% of GDP. The fact is that China is investing at least five times more money in R&D compared to India. A closer examination of the STIP 2013 statement clearly states that achieving the target of 2% of GDP for R&D "in the next five years is realisable if the private sector raises its R&D investment to at least match the public sector R&D investment from the current ratio of around 1:3". One struggles over the policy statement to find the government's actual commitment to increase GERD. In fact there is no such public commitment outside the PPP mode to reach the "magic figure" of 2% of GDP. The optimistic view in the policy that the ratio will improve and reach the target in the coming decade or so is just wishful thinking. If we go by the track record of the last 15 years, the private R&D component of GERD has increased quite robustly but the question is why the ratio did not improve at all. Actually problems underlying private investment in R&D lie elsewhere in the governance of S&T policy measures, instruments and factors closely related to the research and innovation eco-system.
Enhancing private R&D investment is seen as a very important S&T policy goal the world over, but more important is the government support for an emerging economy. Without a clear-cut commitment and a road map from the government to increase the public share of GERD to 2% of GDP in the next five years and proportionally advance thereafter, the laudable goals of "positioning India among the top five global scientific powers by 2020" and attaining a global share of 7% of total research publications seem just a distant dream. If we were to reach anywhere near these goalposts in the coming decade, irrespective of the private contribution, the government must commit to at least 2% of GERD to GDP and sustain it up to 2020 and beyond. At the same time the government should formulate and introduce a series of S&T laws to govern and regulate incentive and research innovation schemes involving the private sector and the mechanisms underlying PPP. This assumes significance as the new policy intends to open up all research and innovation schemes to the private sector in the future. Without such a legal backup and governance mechanisms in place, proposals to promote diffusion and spur the demand side of innovation are unlikely to yield any worthwhile results. The issue of higher government commitment to GERD also assumes significance as more than 55% of GERD in the last few decades is consumed by the strategic sectors of defence, atomic energy and space. Hence what is left under civilian R&D is allocated less than 45% of GERD. With a series of Mars and Moon missions planned, along with "big science" international projects and in the emerging geopolitical scenario, the dominance of the strategic sectors in GERD is likely to continue in the coming decade.

Innovation Potential Underutilised
Over 150% of the expenditure on R&D can be written off for tax purposes in India. But unlike in the case of South Korea, this instrument has no legal underpinning as regards monitoring and evaluating whether the firms are showing expenditure on quality control or other technical operations as having been incurred on R&D. There are over 1,200 firms registered with the concerned department of science and technology. Can we multiply them with a series of incentives and monitor them to enhance R&D intensity? We have not come across any study or report on this important policy measure. Whereas the government allocated huge sums of money in the form of various subsidies, the amount of money for research and innovation schemes, involving private firms, is too small and its use is riddled with unnecessary bureaucratic rules and red tape. Only a fraction of the sum collected as cess on import of technology is passed on to the Technology Development Board. With the exception of software technology parks, we have failed to create an appropriate innovation eco-system for the industrial clusters at the district level and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) spread across the country. Given the lack of appropriate intermediary support or technical capacity building mechanisms, potential firms are reluctant to invest in R&D and technological upgradation of skills. Public support for venture capital is underdeveloped and operates at a sub-optimal level for a growing economy such as India's. We have really failed to learn from the South Korean science and technology policy experience, which has the reputation of reversing government R&D burden from 75% to 25% in just over a decade in the 1990s.
There are other related issues concerning the research and innovation ecosystem with regard to universities and knowledge-generating and disseminating institutions. With the possible exception of IIT Madras, none of our leading universities have science and technology or innovation parks comparable to the ones that have come up at Oxford or Cambridge. Even our Asian neighbours have created huge science and technology parks as part of their leading universities. For example, the park at the Tsinghua University, Beijing, houses nearly 5,000 firms; Hsinchu Science Park at Taiwan's National TsingHua University and National Chiao Tung University has 450 firms; and Biopolis and Fusionopolis has 200 firms at the National University of Singapore. These have come up in the last 15 years and have become major destinations for private R&D investment in these countries. The NIC-initiated university innovation clusters recently but there is no reference or policy support to this move in the STIP 2013. There are more than 250 transnational corporations that have set up R&D centres and labs in our major cities such as Bangalore, Gurgaon and Hyderabad. We have failed to further capitalise on this inflow of corporate R&D in our major cities. Day-to-day civic amenities and the system of governance are breaking down in most of these cities. From a garden city, Bangalore is now called a "garbage city". As Florida (2005:7) in an interesting study cautions, "technology and talent are highly mobile factors, flowing into and out of places". All of this must be factored in when one is trying to improve the efficacy of the research and innovation eco-system. Unfortunately there is very little serious thinking on these lines.

Universities as Academic 'Outhouses'
Our academic sector continues to suffer due to low policy priorities when it comes to R&D. STIP 2013 has given no space to various policy interventions to improve upon research intensity in the higher education sector, which currently spans over 500 universities and some 19,000 affiliated colleges. Barring a reference to promoting inter-university centres, the new policy has nothing to say about research intensity in the academic sector. The new policy is biased in favour of public and private research segments at the cost of the higher education sector. Even though universities accounted for over 52% of total cumulative national research publications for the decade 1997-2007 (Gupta and Dhawan 2008), they were allocated just 5% of GERD. In fact, this has been the case in the post-independence period. Universities in the OECD countries accounted for 20% and Japanese universities accounted for around 15% of GERD in the last decade. Even Chinese universities increased their share of GERD from around 5% in the 1990s to over 12% currently. Policy measures to increase the research intensity in universities and nurture them to attain world-class standards in China were part of their national innovation strategy. Project 211 in the mid-1990s allocated $7.98 billion for 100 universities. Project 985 further shortlisted 39 universities to develop them into a "Chinese Ivy League", starting from the late 1990s with a budget of $4.87 billion. We have not only fallen behind our global competitors, but have failed to adequately address the question of research intensity and gross enrolment ratios in the higher education sector.
Hardly 15% of our universities come under the label of teaching and research universities. Around 85% of our universities are just teaching institutions at different tiers of teaching standards and levels. The bulk of our higher education sector is yet to attain what is known as the Humboldtian goal of teaching and research excellence. STIP 2013 has not given the space and focus that the attainment of this goal deserves. On the other hand, it has proposed a number of goals such as increasing human resources in R&D, research publications, international collaboration in big science, attaining global benchmarks in basic research and fostering science excellence and relevance towards attaining a position among top-five global scientific powers in a decade. How can we attain these goals without looking into the research intensity of the higher educational sector (leave alone primary and school education) of the national innovation system, of which, it is one of the main pillars? A couple of schemes such as INSPIRE are important but unlikely to make any headway in attaining the larger goals. Much of the new and high technology innovation is happening at the intersection of disciplines and interdisciplinary faculties in the universities. In Japan, South Korea, Singapore and China, leading universities are not only moving towards infusing entrepreneurial culture but are embedded in national innovation strategies as frontiers of innovation. Hence any view to keep R&D in higher education outside the purview of STIP is erroneous, for we will then not be able to build new innovation and human resource capacities.

Revamp SMEs and Cluster Policies
STIP 2013 seeks to move towards a new paradigm of STI policy with a view to focus on inclusive growth and innovation. It goes on to identify a number of sectors such as energy and environment, food, water, habitat, unemployment, and healthcare, among others. But where is the focus and strategy to address the real challenges? The Twelfth Plan and the NInC report have already indicated the move towards inclusive growth and innovation. One witnesses this in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the Aadhar Smart Card and the recent cash transfers scheme. So what is so "new" about inclusive innovation? Is it that the science agencies such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, the Indian Council of Medical Research among others will be mandated to devote a proportion of their R&D effort to inclusive innovation? What is intended from the new policy is not clear. On the other hand, the STIP 2013 has not given the required policy attention to SMEs and the manufacturing sectors that they deserve. There is no clue as to how these are going to sustain themselves in this globalised era in the coming decades. There are more than 600 SME industrial clusters and 3,500 artisan clusters, from metal, wood, leather, pottery, cane and bamboo to textiles and wool, spanning the country's industrial districts and cottage enterprises. For sure, the small industry policies that we have followed so far have run out of steam. For instance, the brassware market including exports has, so far, survived with four-decades old, metal melting, casting, moulding and die technologies in industrial clusters like Moradabad. This cluster is unlikely to grow with these age-old techniques and obsolete technology for a long time (Gulrajani 2007). Similar is the case with the Aligarh lock industry cluster, which has failed to capitalise on modern information-based locks. Firms and enterprises in these hundreds of clusters are on the brink of closure. These village and district industrial enterprises lack institutional support in upgrading skills among artisans and are unable to access modern tools to compete in the globalising markets.
Liberalisation and globalisation have not only enforced greater competition but are demanding a new paradigm of regional and rural innovation systems. Such a perspective has the promise to bring various actors (policymakers, knowledge institutions, small and medium enterprises, district authorities and other stake holders) at the district level to interact with each other towards building technological capabilities. The role of knowledge institutions (particularly universities and colleges) can come to play a major role in designing courses, developing skills and imparting training in the regional and rural innovation systems. The time has come to put into practice existing proven concepts such as sectoral systems of innovation and cluster innovation systems. We need to evolve institutional and organisational mechanisms to link knowledge institutions with capacity building institutions at the district level. Such intermediary institutions will fulfil an important task of forging links between formal R&D institutions and the needs and demands of firms in SMEs and clusters (Siddharthan and Rajan 2002). There are about 6,000 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) that urgently need modernisation and a total revamp of teaching methods. As nearly 93% of our labour force is in the informal sector, how many ITIs does the country India require in the coming decade to professionalise this work force?. By all means regional and rural innovation systems need to become an integral part of STI policies.

Need to Forge New Links
STIP 2013 underlines the importance of bringing agricultural R&D policy together with the national R&D system as a part of overall STI policy. This is a good move but why are we not strengthening the existing links or initiating cross collaborations between strategic R&D institutions (involving defence, atomic energy and space) and civilian R&D institutions? India acquired considerable scientific and technological capabilities in the strategic R&D sectors over the last several decades. But we are yet to see their impact felt in the civilian R&D sector. Space may be a possible exception. The time has come to convert our strategic R&D capability to boost civilian R&D and innovation via certain policy measures. We must also think of ways and means by which we could optimise our scarce S&T and R&D resources through cross-institutional collaboration. Acquiring sophisticated equipment and instrumentation is a capital-intensive affair. Such inter-science agency collaborations not only stand to enhance the mobility of research personnel but they will also enable them to share scarce S&T resources. We must learn from the experiences of other countries. In the last two decades, 80% of all CNRS (French National Research Council) laboratories were reorganised to establish joint R&D units and laboratories with universities in their close proximity. They follow a system of joint appointments to enhance mobility between different institutions and establish joint incubation and innovation centres to commercialise technologies (Mustar and Laredo 2002). Similar changes are needed to bring our CSIR labs, universities and other institutions together via certain policy mechanisms.

Time Will Tell
"Creating a robust national innovation system" is one of the key elements listed in the STIP 2013. It is strange that such an important perspective as National Innovation System (NIS) finds just one line in the document. There are now over 500 PhD dissertations in the world on this theme. The basic feature of the NIS concept is that various actors and agencies in the system must be organised in such a way so as to enable them to interact with each other to infuse dynamism into the system as a whole (Lundval 1992; and Nelson 1993). Some institutional mechanisms of coordination and consultation will have to be put in place, which mandates various actors (for instance, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) or relevant department, human resource development, finance, industry, Planning Commission, universities and business enterprises, etc) to collectively deliberate on the formulation and implementation of national innovation policies.
To benchmark with best cases we need a series of comparative studies from various countries with qualitative, quantitative and impact indicators in STI. We need a set of new S&T laws to govern various research and innovation schemes, tax incentives and risk capital investments. Above all we need a new breed of S&T policy professionals, economists, MBAs, social scientists and other policy analysts to be placed in the Ministry of Science and Technology, DST, department of biotechnology and other science departments. So far, these agencies have no provision for recruitment of such professionals and to institutionalise interdisciplinary teams. The move indeed reflects a new mindset insofar as the intent is to bring about organisational changes towards building a robust NIS. As we progress into the third year of the "Innovation Decade", it is time to move forward. However, it is only time that will tell whether we really embarked on this radical move to create a dynamic NIS or left it as another good idea in our policy discourses.

Florida, Richard (2005): Cities and the Creative Class (New York and London: Routledge).
Gupta, B M and S M Dhawan (2008): "A Scientometric Analysis of S&T Publications Output by India during 1985-2002", DESIDOC Journal of Library and Information Technology, 28(2), pp 73-85.
Gulrajani, Mohini (2007): "Technological Change, Innovation and Development: Case Study of Two Indian Industrial Clusters", PhD thesis, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
Lundval, B A (1992): National Innovation Systems: Towards a Theory of Innovation and Interactive Learning (London: Pinter).
Mustar P and P Laredo (2002): "Innovation and Research Policy in France (1980-2000) or the Disappearance of the Colbertist State", Research Policy, 31: 55-72.
Nelson, R (1993): National Innovation Systems: A Comparative Analysis (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
Siddharthan, N S and Y S Rajan (2002): Global Business, Technology and Knowledge Sharing, Lessons for Developing Country Enterprises (New Delhi: Macmillan).

V V Krishna ( is with the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Editor-in-Chief of the journal Science, Technology and Society.


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Summer Scholarships for Indian Students to Study in Israel

Summer Scholarships for Indian Students to Study in Israel


The Government of Israel has approved 250 scholarships for this summer (June to August 2103) in 8 different summer courses for Indian and Chinese students. These courses are open to students who have finished their 2nd year for bachelors' degree and post graduate students.  Hebrew Language courses are open to all students pursuing bachelors and masters degree. The scholarship will cover tuition fee, hostel, social and educational trips in Israel and a monthly stipend.  Please follow the web links for complete information.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Article "Pollution and purity" by Sarandha, CSSP

Pollution and purity   
By Sarandha
Himal Southasian, 15 March 2013

The year 2013 began in India with the culmination of a 144 year wait at the confluence of Hinduism's holiest rivers, the Ganga and Yamuna, at the city of Allahabad, also known as Prayag. The Maha Kumbh Mela had millions of devotees, tourists and academics flocking to the holy confluence over a span of two months. By the end of this massive fair, Prayag had borne the footprints of about a hundred million people – a number five times the population of Mumbai, itself one of the world's most populous cities.
The Kumbh Mela, occurring every three years, has long been considered the largest congregation of humans on the planet. The Ardh Kumbh happens every six years, the Purna Kumbh every twelve, and the Maha Kumbh – the 'Great Kumbh' – occurs only once every 144 years, or every twelfth Purna Kumbh. There are references to this festival in the Vedas and Puranas, in epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and in various Tantric texts. Although not known as the Kumbh back then, under various other names the festival also finds its way into the historical accounts of Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to the Mauryan court in the 4th century BCE, and into the Chinese traveller Xuanzang's narratives on India in the 7th century CE.
Mythology and science may appear diametrically opposed to many, but at the Kumbh these two systems of knowledge intermesh seamlessly in the popular imagination. As Prayag becomes the most crowded place on earth, astrophysics and legend overlap to inspire this epic act of faith. The Mela's mythological genesis lies in the story of the Samudra Manthan – the churning of the ocean of milk – which was a battle between the gods and demons over a pot of divine nectar; the word 'kumbh' is Sanskrit for 'pot'. To cut a long story short, after a protracted battle, the gods took possession of the nectar and handed it over to Jayant, son of Lord Indra, who escaped with it by transforming himself into a sparrow and flying away, chased by the demons. This chase lasted twelve years, during which Jupiter guided Jayant and protected him from the demons, the moon – helped prevent the nectar from spilling, the sun prevented the kumbh from breaking, and Saturn prevented Jayant from drinking all the nectar himself. Only four drops fell on earth, wherever Jayant rested –at Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Every twelve years, with Jupiter completing of a full orbit around the sun, this nectar is believed to re-appear in one of these four places at a time, corresponding to the astrological positions that Jupiter, the sun and the moon occupied when each drop was spilt.
The Vedic sciences are central to this story. The science of astrophysics is vital to the timing of the festival, which requires a precise understanding of the positions of the sun, the moon, and Jupiter. When these three bodies are placed in a particular manner vis-à-vis the Earth, its electromagnetic field is said to be enhanced. Devotees believe that the effect is especially pronounced at the four places where the nectar fell. This enhanced electromagnetic field is supposed to be favourable for the entire bio-system, and specifically for the air and water of the places where the field is most pronounced. The impact of this on humans is said to be on physical, intellectual and spiritual levels – on the nervous, respiratory, endocrine and circulatory systems. Various scientific institutions are currently investigating the healing benefits of electromagnetic fields, and several say their findings confirm some postulates of Vedic science which, as in the case of Vastushastra, the Vedic study of architecture, places much emphasis on the Earth's magnetic and other energy fields. In the Vedic world, and so at the Kumbh, science and religion were under the same umbrella and so religious vocabulary – often metaphorical, spiritual, hyperbolic, and mythological – was employed to articulate scientific concepts as well. So the nectar, and the idea that it reappeared during the festival, could be an emblem of the Vedic knowledge of electromagnetic fields.
To reap the benefits of the planetary positioning, kalpvasis arrive at the Mela in throngs. 'Kalp' in Sanskrit means self-transformation through inner resolve, and 'vas' means living out this resolve through various means, such as yoga and meditation. In the past, Hindu sages and intellectuals would gather at the Mela to ideate on matters of the world, and used this as a space to communicate with each other as well as with the masses, for whom the Mela was a special opportunity to be a part of intellectual and spiritual discussions. Even today, the Mela is a conclave for Hindu philosophers. For those without a philosophical temperament, the Mela is primarily a pilgrimage to wash away their sins, to appease the gods and, as is popularly believed, to thus escape the cycle of birth and death.
Besides this spiritual dimension, for many the Kumbh Mela is also a holiday and a means of entertainment. The Mela is a grand spectacle. The Shahi Snan, or Royal Bath, of the sages and priests, when the Naga Babas display all their martial antics and acrobatics, draws quite a crowd. The Mela draws people from all walks of life, and babas from many orders and sects, all of whom have something unusual to say or display. It's an anthropological and ethnographic treat for those disposed to human observation.

Hinduism and ecology
As the Maha Kumbh Mela proceeds, Allahabad accommodates more and more visitors, far beyond its infrastructural capacities. This time around, many in India have asked – is this grandiose act of faith detrimental to the environment?
This large a gathering of people obviously puts much pressure on the city's meagre resources. For example, there are no proper provisions for all the extra sewage, which finds its way into the same rivers in which those who created the sewage then take a holy dip. The same stands for the litter that is strewn about – plastics, paper, food, offerings made to the rivers – placing tremendous strain on already ailing rivers. The impact on villages and agriculture downstream is also never properly addressed. Questions of caste also come up, as it is inevitably the Dalits who clean up the visitors' mess. All these problems can be mitigated through proper planning and management, but unfortunately they have not been. For most of the Mela's visitors and pilgrims these issues do not seem to be of any concern at all.
Why is Hinduism today so nonchalant about much of the mess its practice ensues? Major Hindu festivals have significant ecological footprints. Diwali brings poisonous gasses and noise from firecrackers; Holi adds noxious chemicals to our waters; immersing idols in rivers and making offerings to them pollutes the very holy waters that the faithful worship. Are Hindu practices then predisposed to being insensitive to the environment?
In Hindu theology all existence is seen as divine, and all of nature is worthy of veneration. The universe is a medium through which the divine presents itself. In the wide spectrum on Hindu beliefs, many Hindus see god in plants, animals and rocks. Hindu texts, including the Vedas and Upanishads, stress the interconnectedness between all elements of the cosmos, connected by a divine thread. The philosophy of Advaita, or non-dualism, encapsulates this understanding, elaborating on the oneness of all forms of existence. This notion bears striking parallels to the tenets of quantum physics. That everything is linked in a continuum, and that different units of existence aren't really separate, are facts no longer restricted to the realms of theology. In Hinduism this is seen as a connecting consciousness, which manifests itself in the form of different qualities present in different elements of nature. For this reason, there is no clear separation between diverse natural phenomena, objects and people. Consequently, everything is divine. Some Hindus see the word 'Bhagavan', which means 'God' in Hindi, as an acronym: 'Bh' stands for bhoomi (earth), 'ga' for gagan (sky/ether), 'v' for vayu (air), 'a' for agni (fire), and 'n' for neer (water).
In Hindu mythology, characters often oscillate between natural and human embodiments. Many of the Hindu gods and goddesses have several avatars – manifestations – in animal and plant forms. There is an abundance of nature-based deities, both in the 'great' and 'little' traditions. These deities stand as metaphors, celebrating the divinity of nature and the reciprocity that human societies share with it. Therefore, we see three different phenomena – nature, humans and divinity – converging in what can be understood as a complicated, four-fold process of myth-making:
- Nature is first made intelligible in its natural form, as in the form of rivers, trees, mountains, etc.
- But it is considered dangerous to see nature in simply a scientific manner, as just water or plants or land, stripping it of all its deeper sacral meanings. Thus, divine qualities are identified in each object so that humans understand the deeper value of nature. According to Hindu belief, these divine qualities are not superimposed on different objects at random, only to make humans think that a particular object represents a particular divine attribute. On the contrary, divine consciousness is intrinsic to the object, and the myth's purpose is merely to recognise it.
- To make this abstract idea popularly intelligible, the oneness between nature and divinity, gods of nature are given human forms (rain god, sun god, river goddess). The human form allows for easy comprehension of nature as divine.
- This human form is authenticated by attaching ordinary human emotions and depictions to it, allowing humans to relate to these mystic natural phenomena and something immediate approachable, not pure and distant. Hence we hear stories of gods and goddesses partaking in human activities.
This process is not contrived, engineered by just a few individuals. Rather, it is the way Hindu society has, over generations, come to understand the environment and build a culture around it. The Hindu belief that god is all life and existence, in and around us, comes alive through such mythology. Eulogising nature in this way is also a tool for ensuring deference towards it.
However, not all people of a community perceive nature as divine; for many, deference towards nature comes not just from its perceived spiritual importance, but also from an understanding that it sustains life and livelihoods. From that perspective, nature takes the form of gods and goddesses in mythology not because of its inherent divinity, but because myth sanctions and legitimises the relationship people already have with the object. Here nature is worshipped simply for what it is and the uses it brings. Here, myth serves more of a moral and cultural purpose than a spiritual one. For instance, considering people's utilitarian need for rivers, they are eulogised as river goddesses to prevent their abuse or over-exploitation. This is how the valued relationship a community collectively experiences with that object is crystallised and sealed in religion. For the person who does not hold a metaphysical outlook, this form of mythology is most comprehensible. This is why the cultural significance of myth assumes much wider understanding and acceptance than the spiritual one.
So, mythology has two distinguishable forms:  the spiritual, where myth is symbolic of the inherent divinity of nature; and cultural, where myth sacralises the relationship of use that human society has with nature. And there is a third form, the ritualistic one, where nature is worshipped not for spiritual or cultural purposes, but simply because inherited tradition and myth says that nature is god. Why this is so does not matter. The relationship is restricted to blind worship alone, and no connection is made between this worship and nature's spiritual or utilitarian aspects.

God is not the answer
It appears that this ritualistic understanding of mythology and religion has come to dominate today, replacing the basic tenets of respect for nature. So now Hindus bathe in rivers because they fear breaking tradition and possibly inviting god's wrath, but without recognising the river as a spiritual symbol or respecting the river environment, if not for ecology's sake then at least for their own. Most Hindus are no longer aware of the rules set in their scriptures about ritual bathing and rivers: that one is supposed to bathe at home first, and only enter the river in an already clean state; that sewage and dirty water, let alone human excreta, should never reach rivers.
As direct contact with natural resources has declined, as piped water has replaced the need for individuals to interact with rivers, concern for the environment has diminished proportionately. This suggests that religion was never the prime factor behind environmentally friendly practices in India in the past. It was livelihoods, lifestyles and culture – all of them born of a necessary intimacy with nature – that ensured respect for the environment. This is not to say that Hinduism does not make a case for environmentalism, but it was never the prime motive of environmental concern for most people. Now that practical links with the environment have been severed, so have popular concerns.
Only ritual remains intact. The Ganga is no longer pure, but a ritual bath in it is still considered vital. People taking holy dips understand that the holy rivers are now dirty, but disparage those who think they have also become impure. In their minds, dirtiness or cleanliness is a quality of the outward form, whereas impurity and purity are a state of the soul. As they differentiate between 'impure' and 'dirty', the rivers' inherent divinity and purity will remain intact no matter how much they are defiled. This is why many river worshippers do not take the problem of pollution seriously. Their connection is not with the rivers' natural form, but with the rivers' divinity. As a result, perversely, the actual condition of rivers is irrelevant to those who hold them sacred.  This is also true of other aspects of nature. On Diwali, Holi and the Kumbh Mela, the levels of water, soil, air and noise pollution keep rising, and yet the devotees revel in it, disregarding the trail of filth they leave behind. Hindu rituals themselves reflect a contradiction, as they give concrete form to abstract ideas of nature worship, but in doing so mock that very idea by despoiling nature through the ritual.
This problem perhaps has its roots in Hindu theology itself, according to which the physical is maya – not real, an illusion. It is disputed whether Hindu theology unanimously states this, or whether it is a misinterpretation of the idea that one needs to rise above worldly desires and attachments. Nevertheless, what we have today is most Hindus believing that the material world is 'maya', and so defilement of the physical form means very little. Defilement too is an illusion; the essence is the soul, and is above materiality. But this maya is what we live in everyday, and it is quite an assault on all our senses.
The reason for this isn't just the lack of connection with nature, but also that our current economy and society encourages ecologically harmful choices. It is inconvenient to buy and use organic colours made with flower dyes, for Holi and for rituals of immersing idols in rivers. It is inconvenient to clean oneself before taking a dip in a river that is far from home; to not make offerings wrapped in plastic. It is almost a universal expectation during Diwali that we will burst firecrackers. It would be too romantic to assume that all people of the past connected intimately with nature or agreed with Hindu theology, but they did lead more eco-friendly lives as noxious chemicals simply weren't available to them. Modernity comes at a price, and doesn't just affect industry, but religion too. Hindu rituals now incur a heavy environmental cost. Besides, our water and sewage infrastructure is such that we pollute rivers with our waste even if we care enough not to directly throw things into them ourselves. Today, even if we only made organic offerings like flowers or unpainted clay idols, we still indirectly continue to burden our already ailing rivers.
In this daunting scenario, initiatives like the 'Green Kumbh' by the Ganga Action Parivar, a network of individuals and organisations concerned for the river's wellbeing, are welcome beginnings. The 'Green Kumbh' was started by a religious leader in partnership with NGOs, schools and government officials. It focuses on planting trees, building toilets and managing solid waste during the Mela. However, it fails to address core ecological issues with river bathing, offerings thrown into the rivers, and other Kumbh rituals, as well as the major problem of sewage being dumped into the rivers. The program aims to beautify the area for a 'clean and green' Kumbh, but sadly, like many environmental initiatives, falls prey to simplistic rhetoric instead of actually tackling problematic practices. The other problem with such initiatives is that of saffron-ising the green. Environmental movements, if driven by religious sentiments, can turn fundamentalist, exclusive and communal. This danger looms large, even though religion can be an easy way to draw people towards environmentalism. Nonetheless, religious leaders have an important role to play in endorsing eco-friendly rituals and modifying practices to suit current needs instead of looking to the 'pristine past' for answers. Still, whatever the answer is for India's rivers, religion is only a small part of it.

~ Sarandha is the author of In Search of Yamuna: Reflections on a River Lost (Vitasta, 2011). After working with the Centre for Science and Environment, she is currently a research scholar at the Centre for Studies in Science Policy, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

JNU Lecture "Indian Science at the Crossroads: A Scientist's Perspective" by Prof S. Umapathy, IISc, on 11th April, at SPS

JNU Seminar Series

 (promoting Interdisciplinary perspectives)


Indian Science at the Crossroads: A Scientist's Perspective of an Emerging India


 Professor S. Umapathy

Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

 Venue: SPS Seminar Room, 1st Floor, School of Physical Sciences, JNU

 Date: Thursday, 11th April 2013

 Time: 3.00–500 p.m.

Summary of the Talk

India's rapid growth in the post-liberalisation era of the economy has led to a considerable increase in funding for research and education, as well as, to the creation of a number of new educational institutions. But it remains a huge challenge to provide these institutions with the kind of modern high-tech world class infrastructure that would serve the educational and research needs of our population (45% of whom are under the age of 25 years and 70% of whom live in rural areas with limited access to technology) and sustain a vibrant research effort that is of international standards. 

This talk will touch upon scientific and sociological practices in Indian research in the context of a world that is highly competitive and rapidly changing. Issues proposed to cover include the training ofstudents with differing socio-economic backgrounds, diversity in the quality and quantity of manpower and faculty, nationalism and self-reliance in relation to international competitiveness, leadership and management, innovation, and science policy. Some "out-of-the box" solutions to meet the aspirations of a nation attempting to shedits colonial mindset will be addressed.


About Speaker

S Umapathy is a J C BOSE fellow professor at the Department of Inorganic and Physical Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science and also holds an Honorary Professor position at the Department of Chemistry, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom. He is well known for his research work in the inter-disciplinary area of applications of Laser Spectroscopy to physics to medicine. He has received number of awards from Govt. of India, including the Shanthi Swarup Bhatnagar Prize, the Swarna Jayanthi Fellowship and Sir C V Raman young Scientist award. He had been a member of the science and technology panel of the National Knowledge Commission, of Government of India. He has varied interests including, sociology of science and science management. Further details are available on


For further details contact: Professor V V Krishna 26704461 or Professor Susan Visvanathan 26704428/4408