Articles

Technology Policies1

TECHNOLOGY POLICIES IN INDIA

 

A SURVEY OF THEIR EVOLUTION AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE POLICIES

 

 

by Y S Rajan

(1994)

 

Urgging the scientists and the industry leaders of the country to grab the opportunities for research and development drawn up by the post-GATT liberalised environment, the Prime Minister in his address at the Indian Science Congress annual meeting at Jaipur on 3rd January, 1994, has stated it (GATT) ensured further opening up of national'economies and our science and technology specialists and industry leaders will have an enlarged arena to play their part in. This is the clear call in the New Year by the Prime Minister. It symbolises the emphasis on the shift in the tools of power-politics that has taken place worldwide. Over centuries the domination of men or nations over others were by those who possessed Land, Labour, and Capital. Now the shift is on those who possess Capital and Technology (not mere Capital alone).

It is also reported that during the Science Congress,' the Prime Minister has pointed out that emergence . 'of lot' of contradictory trends in the current economic scenario where India was attempting to liberalise its economy in the face of protectionism by Western countries. This protectionism is more clearly visible nowadays through much publicised items like denial of on cryogenic engine technology.Actually however, denial of technology is widespread to several other areas where economic strengths can be obtained through technologies through loose interpretations of words such as national interest and dual use. It is now undoubtedly clear that the developed nations use among other things a key weapon in competition, namely, technoloqy. What is it? How to deal with it? Is it possible not to worry about it and consider it merely as one of those items which can be bought in the international markets through expenditure of hard cash or through the host of other capital attracting mechanisms such as Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), equity participation or outright purchase? The spectrum of opinion varies even among top business persons. If we consider many other medium or small business holders, many of them are not even fully aware of the issues involved, though they have to act in a fast changing world of globalisation. When we encompass all opinion/decision makers by including the whole gamut of opinion makers in the Government, administrators, economists, business persons, trade & industry associations, financiers, scientists, technologists, academics, labour leaders, press persons and many others, clarity of discussion on the issues is completely lost and ideas get fuzzy.

Notwithstanding this complexity and the problems due to inadequate information, biased or preconceived notions, compartmentalised thinking or micro-short-term views, Technoloqy is an issue which cannot be ducked any more. It is not a special prerogative or exclusive property of either the Industry or the so-called users or scientists or technologists or academics. Nor is it something which can left to the cycles of periodic homage paying at annual conventions and then left alone to collect dust or fungus in some isolated laboratories or industries.

Technology in the latter half of twentieth century has emerged as a powerful tool not merely for human comforts but also for acquiring business and political prowess. It is an all pervading entity not easily amenable to simple definitions. It encompasses not only the artefacts of equipment, machinery and products but also the processes involved in design, development, upscaling, testing, production, marketing, maintenance, and also the subsequent processes of continual updation or sudden breakthroughs. It includes not only the visible knowledge ­containing-items involved in these activities such as design drawings, software, tapes, discs, written materials and data bases but also the knowledge embodied in the human beings who are involved in the various facets of activities. In a country which is used the concept of a single universal spirit embodying everything animate or inanimate, such definitions should not very difficult to conceptualise. However the danger, as it appears to be in our culture, also lies in the search of a single or simple mantra for emanicipation or by obsession with one or two features of the complex entity as the ultimate end in itself. For example there are some who think that import of latest machinery wil solve their technology problems; some stress on 'software' containing technology know-how; some (especially scientists) who stress on know-why and do not progress beyond to produce tangible results. Also there are calamitous hiatus between the thinking of administrators, economists, financiers, business persons and scientists.

If Indian economy has to survive and excel in the short or long term, it is necessary that India has to learn to grapple with the problems of technology in all its facets and not isolate it to a few rooms or laboratories in the country or to a few agreements or contracts on technology transfer or purchase of equipment. Business economics relating to technologies reauires a totally different approach in terms of evaluation of gestation periods. risk evaluation or cost-benefit assessment. It is a forward-trading of different sorts. But it is to be realised that investment in technoloqy is investment in equity. It is well known to every business person that there is a critical size of equity one had to control from one's own resources. if one were to be in control of a company. A similar logic applies to investment in one's own internal strengths technoloqy. Unfortunately straight forward arithmetical equations are not available for ready-made use. The process of judging this critical size itself is an important aspect of business management in the coming century. In addition the erstwhile segregation of agricultural, industrial and science sectors will disappear largely by the turn of the century, thanks to the revolutions in technology, adding another complexity to the business arithmetic.

It is against this background this paper attempts to piece together different facets of evolution of Indian policies towards technology development and provide pointers for short term and long term strategies to be updated in the coming years.

2. THE BEGINNING

When one thinks of technology policy, often there is a tendency to consider only the Scientific Policy Resolution of 1958 or Technology Policy Statement of 1983.Persons more knowledgeable on Science and Technology (S&T) matters, may refer to the excellent document dated January, 1973 "An approach to the Science and Technology Plan" brought out by the National Committee on Science and Technology(NCST).

But truly speaking the path we chose for industrial and therefore technological development in the country, in a number of . ways dates back to Industrial Policy Resolution of April 6,1948. It has an excellent preamble which has a lot of relevance even today. In the first paragraph after mentioning about the task before the nation of establishing a social order where justice and equality of opportunity shall be secured to all the people and stressing the need for planning an integrated effort and the establishment of National Planning Commission. It goes on to say in the second and third paragraphs :-

"Any improvement in the economic conditions of the country postulates an increase in national wealth : a mere redistribution of existing wealth would make no essential difference to the people and would merely mean the redistribution of existing wealth would make no essential difference to the people and would merely mean the distribution of poverty. A dynamic national policy must, therefore, be directed to a continuous increase in production by all possible means, side by side with measures to secure its equitable distribution. In the present state of the nation’s economy, when the mass of the people are below the subsistence level, the emphasis should be on the expansion of production, both agricultural and industrial, and in particular on the production of capital equipment or goods, satisfying the basic needs of the people and of commodities the export of which will increase earnings of foreign exchange.

The problem of State participation in Industry and the conditions in which private enterprise should be allowed to operate must be judged in this context. There can be no doubt that the State must playa progressively active role in the development of industries, but ability to achieve the main objectives should determine the immediate extent of State responsibility and the limits to private enterprise. Unde r present cond i t ions, the mechanism and the resources of the State may not permit it to function forthwith in Industry as widely as may be desirable. The Government of India are taking steps to remedy the situation; in particular, they are considering steps to create a body of men trained in business methods and management. They feel,however, that for some time to come, the State could contribute more quickly to the increase of national wealth by expanding its present activities wherever it is already operating and by concentrating on new units of production in other fields, rather than on acquiring and running existing units. Meanwhile, private enterprise, properly directed and regulated, has a valuable role to play."

The statement that people can be no better merely by distributing poverty without creating national wealth is valid even today. The need for expansion of production and export is valid even today. Sadly true is also the fact that the mechanism and resources of the State may not permit it to function forthwith in the industry. But unlike what is stated in 1948, we have now to make a statement that the ability of public institutions to operate industries and services have not been a story about which can be proud of today after 45 years of the Industrial Policy Resolution. No doubt, there has been an expansion of industrial infrastructure and many spots of excellence, but for variety of reasons ranging from stiffling bureaucracies to unproductive labour laws to inability to act due to obsession with uniform procedures, fear to change and so on, the rapid decay of the monolithic Government mechanism which controls every facet of industrial and therefore technological activity seems to be irreversible. The country is therefore in search of a new

paradigm where the words liberalisation, competition, efficiency, productivity, and so on have come to the fore often with contradictory interpretations. Unfortunately, it also appears that in number of fields the processes to induce these changes for liberalisation of procedures or competition have to be through introduction of foreign elements, such as direct foreign investment for introduction of foreign technologies, take-over, and so on. Partly as a reaction, there are also some demands for 'level playing field' from various quarters of Indian business. Now the word technology has become the most crucial factor as accepted by many though, of course as to how to go about it, there appears to be no consensus within the country. In fact, often there is no serious discussion of details about technology between the various stakeholders, though the discussion on Draft New Technology Policy 1993 provided an opportunity.

3. WHAT IS ATTEMPTED HERE ?

The present write-up attempts to project a view point to make our industries technoloqically dynamic to produce wealth. Stimulate economy. to make the services and aqricultural sector better and thus contributing to true welfare of the people in concrete terms.

The write-up in addition, will try to capture the spirit behind the opening sentences of the Scientific Policy Resolution of 1958 :

“The key to national prosperity, apart from the spirit of the people lies in the modern age in the effective combination of three factors technology, raw materials and capital, of which the first perhaps is the most important since the creation and adoption of new scientific techniques can, infact, make up for a deficiency in the natural resources and reduce the domains of capital, But technology can only grow out of the study of science and its applications.”

4. QUESTIONS

Despite clear perceptions at the macrolevel policy statements why is that the Indian Industry by and large not been able to master assiduous application of technologies in a continual manner as some other countries have done in the recent past (e.g. Japan)? How come we still remain a major importer of technologies? Science is mastered on one side fairly well in our laboratories and academia whereas the applications are not considered as an integral part of pursuit of science? Why is it that those in charge of application of technologies in actual life, be it in industry, services, etc., irrespective of whether they were in the private or public sector have mostly adopted methods of importing technologies that too mostly in the embodied form? Why is it that licence production with imported machinery and consultants was more or less the accepted form of developing industries and infrastructure rather than attempting to build atleast some in-house capabilities for eventual mastering of manufacturing techniques? What has been the role of the Directorate General of Technology Development (DGTD) set up in 1950 to act as a principal technically advisory organisation for the Government of India on matters relating to industrial development of the country? What were the effects of various mechanisms for licensing?

 How have various policies relating to industry and science and technologies helped/affected technological development and competitiveness of Indian industry? Is Indian industry technologically underdeveloped or is it just that Indian industry simply lagging behind by a few years? If Indian industry is technologically backward, then were the policies a constraint? Or was it only the problem of implementation? Was it due to overwhelming presence of Government in matters of industry and technology? Or is it merely due to the apathy of those in charge of industries (in both public and private sectors)? Or something else? Why the Indian industry did not care to invest on R&D or did little in this regard? Was it deliberate that technology absorption/assimilation/upgradation was neglected by the industry? Was there any incentive in the repetitive import of technology? To what extent protectionist policies of the past responsible for technological backwardness may be underdeveloped protected market does not encourage technological development? Why the indigenous R&D institutions failed to fulfil expectations?

Many more questions can be asked. Obtaining answers for each of them need not be our goal. We need to learn from the past. But the mere search for such answers and perhaps endless arguments resulting from them should not inhibit further actions. The fact that many such questions are asked in various forums is symptomatic of severe problems within the overall systems. At the same time, they can be converted into opportunities for forward looking and bold actions, if there is a collective will from all the stakeholders to foray and to succeed in the global markets and also to increase the domestic wealth and dynamism of national economy.

5. NATIONAL POLICY AFFECTING GROWTH OF TECHNOLOGY IN THE COUNTRY

The NCST document an Approach to the Science and Technology Plan January 1973), rightly points out:

"Above all, the national leadership must give concrete expression to the realisation that so much of the extent and pace at which science and technology contribute to national development depend on policies evolved and actions taken outside the scientific and technological systems."

 This realisation articulated so well in 1973, does not seem to have been there or may have only been fuzzy, when the Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) was first announced in 1948 and followed later by Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951 (IDRA).IPR, 1948 was more concerned about the relative roles of the State and private sector in development of Industry and about the ownership of means of production. While to a certain extent the 'best a available technique', 'business methods' and 'management' have been mentioned, the role of science and technology (S&T) which have led to the growth of modern industries in the foreign countries and therefore the need for us to invest in S&T while trying to remove the foreign domination has not been made explicit. In a sense the seed for hiatus between S&T system and the Industrial development has been laid in such an omission. The role of scientific and technical knowledge is explicitly mentioned in the Prime Minister's Statement in Parliament on Participation of Foreign Capital in Industries (April 6, 1949) is as under:

"Indian capital needs to be supplemented by foreign capital not only because national savings will not be enough for the rapid development of the country on the scale we wish but also because in many cases scientific, technical and industrial knowledge and capital equipment can best be secured along with foreign capital".

This was a realistic and pragmatic assessment of the situation prevailing then. However sadly such a statement seems to have been the guiding spirit for action by the Government machinery and personnel and the Industry leaders. Even the Industrial Policy Resolution of 30th April, 1956 does not explicitly deal with the need for Indian Industry to devote attention to the methods of S&T and the need to devote resources to the same. First time, when the explicitisation of the role of indigenous technology or internally developed technology appears to be in December 23, 1977 when there was a Statement on Industrial Policy. In subsequent statements the explicitisation is clear.

The IDRA 1951 not doubt has in the main text a reference while describing the tasks of the Development Councils:

"to promote scientific and industrial research with reference to the scheduled industry or group of scheduled industries……………"

However in the second schedule which elaborates this point states :

"Promoting or undertaking scientific industrial research into matters affecting industrial psychology and research into matters relating to production and to the consumption or use of goods and services supplied to the industry".

This is one of the other sixteen elaborations of the functions of the Development Councils. This fact (of being one one among the sixteen) perhaps might have been an inhibiting factor in visualising S&T and research and development (R&D) per se as a modernising vital force for industries.

While making the above observations, one should add that the Prime Minister was an active advocate of S&T right from independence. The SPR of 1958 quoted earlier beautifully enunciates the crucial role of technology and the role of since, valid even today. Scientific institutions began to grow after independence. Ministry of Scientific Research and Natural Resources was formed in 1951, Department of Atomic Energy in 1954 and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) in 1958.

However the fact that efforts on 8&1 were not perceived as the engine of growth of industries should be valid not only from the earlier observations but also by the way the Department of Industrial Development (DID) and DGTD functioned later. In addition the number of persons in the S&T community in the fifites was so small to articulate these issues. Even those who were there, would have been busy building 8&T institutions. This hiatus in the national psyche between Industry and S&T continues even today and the sooner it is bridged better we are. Of course there are many other stakeholders and actors in the scene who have succeeded reasonably well in bridging this gap, at least conceptually in many minds. More about this later.

Coming back to the IDRA of 1951, while one can appreciate the historical context of the socio-political compulsions and the world view resulting from the freedom from capitalist-imperialist yoke, the overall reading of it in today’s context clearly brings out the deep suspicion about the role of private sector. There has been an overwhelming desire to control the private sector in every

possible manner. Typically by an amendment in 1953, which provides that the registered owner of the industrial undertaking shall not produce or manufacture any new article unless he has obtained a licence for producing or manufacturing such an article. Naturally the amendment also provided that the decision of the Central Government whether an industrial undertaking is producing or manufacturing any article, shall be final and such an act on the part of industry without prior Government approval attracted penalty. It is not difficult to infer that entire inhibition against any innovation by Indian Industries was built through this innocuous looking clause. The stress of the business management (especially a conservative one extending from the earlier – domestic or foreign – and also did not affect the pricing or quality standards. Thus the IDRA, the amendment and the long winding, bureaucratic processes employed by DID and DGTD ensured a static equilibrium in technological processes within the Indian industry. Lobbies on behalf of industries, individually or collectively through associations have only to deal with capacities, tax exemptions, etc. The entire process of business management shifted to management of licensing: of one's own and that of potential competitors. Not surprisingly these led to political patronage and corruption - not merely at political levels but all levels of licence management of Government system.

The NCST Approach to S&T Plan 1973 comes close to recognising the problems :

“…… it would appear necessary to assure private industry will allow enhancement in production capacity beyond the formally licensed level …. (if) genuine technological development (by the industry) has been responsible for the increased capacity”.

A similar provision for new products. But the procedure suggested appeared cumbersome and not sufficient to attract industries to ask for these to move away from their otherwise ‘cosy' situation.

The Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act, 1969 was a natural extension of suspicion about big business. While much of it is justified, it again did not even consider the fact that investment in risky business of R&D can be better done by bigger business houses. While the Act may be patterned after US and UK models, the fact that these countries had a long experience technology generation in big business would not even been thought of, given the hiatus in the conceptual domain between Industry and S&T, as pointed above, in Government policy making dominated by non-technocrats. So the question was that of putting monetary limits and not to consider some special measures for those industries which generate indigenous S&T capabilities

or innovative R&D systems. Therefore another logical source of generating indigenous industrial R&D was plugged.

Similarly the phased manufacturing programme was another opiate to still the conscience, whenever there is a call for internal efforts !

If this was the situation with respect to Industrial policies which, to a great extent, create the demand for technologies, one can naturally appreciate that fiscal or import policies addressed much narrower perspectives ; of balancing the budgets; responding to the lobbies on taxes; conserving foreign exchange, etc.

The entire industrial policy addressed domestic consumption. Only around mid-seventies when foreign exchange problems were severe, attention was given to export oriented units. Again the fact that export advantage on the long run can be profitably be maintained only by R&D intensive products (as Japan or Israel instituted as their policy) was not recognised in the Indian policy on exports. It was more aimed at short term manipulations of incentives for products.

Thus the rigidity with which industrial development grew in a compartmentalised and bureaucratically isolated environment has gone on for so long that when the Statement on Industrial Policy July 23, 1980 went on to state:

"Industrial development is an inter-disciplinary concept. It pertains not only to the manufacturing activity but to All related infrastructural development : licensing and Corporate policies; financial, fiscal, trade and pricing policies; industrial relations and management; scientific and technological developments; and broad socio-economic policies. As such, the implementation of the industrial policy requires close and effective coordination and monitoring at various levels at the Centre as well as between the Centre and the State. Its ultimate success will also depend on the extent of cooperation that Industry receives from the other sections of society”.

It was perhaps too late to make a serious change.

 

6. GROWTH OF R&D INSTITUTIONS

Even though the part of the Government dealing with

Industry, Finance and other socio-economic aspects Here not too keen about or aHare of the role of S&T for national development, there was a part of the Government "hich was concerned about the growth of S&T. The S&T allocations from the Central Government in successive five year plans have increased from Rs.20 crores in the first plan (1951-56) through Rs.67 crores in the second plan, Rs.144 crores in the third plan, Rs.373 crores in the fourth plan, Rs.1381 crores in the fifth plan, Rs.3668 crores in the sixth plan to around Rs.8245 crores in the seventh plan. An outlay of Rs.9388 crores has been made for the eighth five year plan period (1992-97). Of this, the share by the Central S&T agencies and Departments is Rs.4119 crores as against Rs.5077 crores by the economic Departments.

Government of India have set up vast S&T infrastructure since independence for human resource development as well as R&D activities towards technological self reliance. This includes a chain of national laboratories such as the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Atomic Energy Commission, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and others; Universities, colleges, IITs and institutions of national importance and also cooperative research associations in selected industrial sectors with active involvement of the industry. The industry has also set up over 1200 In-house R&D centres and also

promoted around 400 Scientific and Industrial Research Organisations (SIROs). All these agencies contribute to scientific research for industrial development in the country.

Under CSIR, there are about 40 laboratories dealing with scientific and industrial research such as National Physical Laboratory, New Delhi; National Chemical laboratory, Pune; National Metallurgical Laboratory, Jamshedpur; National Aerospace Laboratories, Bangalore; Central Leather Research Institute, Madras; Central Food Technological Research Institute, Pilani; Central Electrochemical Research Institute, Karaikudi; Central Building Research Institute, roorkee; Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad.

Under ICMR, there are 26 laboratories engaged in medical research and extension; under ICAR, there are 61 laboratories/ institutions engaged in agricultural research and extension.

The DRDO has 51 laboratories engaged in advanced researc for defence applications. Several of these laboratories are also dealing with scientific and industrial research such as Defence Electronics Resarch Laboratory, Hyderabad; Aeronautical Development Establishment, Bangalore; Defence Metarials and Stores Research and Development Establishment, Kanpur; Defence Metallurgical Research Laboratory, Hyderabad.

Department of Space has set up eight laboratories which are engaged in space research and applications. Some of them are also dealing with scientific research for industrial development such as Space Applications Centre, Ahmedabad; Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram; Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad.

Department of Atomic Energy has set up a number of research centres which are engaged in research and applications of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. Some of the laboratories are Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay; Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam; Tata Memorial Centre, Bombay.

Department of Electronics has set up a number of Centres such as : Centre for Development of Advanced Computing, Pune; Electronics Research and Development Centre, Thiruvananthapuram; National Centre for Software Technology, Bombay; Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering and Research, Bombay which are engaged in R&D for industrial development.

In addition, there are also research institutions attached to various administrative ministries such as Research Design and Standards Organisation, Lucknow with Ministry of Railways; Telecommunication Research Centre, New Delhi and Centre for

Development of Telenatics, New Delhi with Ministry of Communications;

Central Power Research Institute, Bangalore with Department of Power; Central Machine Tools Research Institute, Bangalore with Ministry of Industry.

The Indian Institutes of Technology at Kharagpur, Delhi, Kanpur, Bombay and Madras, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, several Universities like Bombay University (Department of Chemical Technology), Bombay; Jadavpur University, Calcutta, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi and a number of other academic institutions and engineering colleges are also engaged in scientific research for industrial development.

The cooperative research associations set up with active involvement of industry such as Ahmedabad Textile Industries' research Association, Ahmedabad; Bombay Textile Industries' Research Association, Bombay; National Council for Cement and Building Materials, New Delhi; Indian Jute Industries’ Research

Association, Calcutta; Automotive Research Association of India, Pune; Indian Rubber Manufacturers' Research Association, Thane are engaged in industrial research relating to specified sectors.

National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) under the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) is mainly engaged in licensing and commercialisation of indigenous technologies as well as export of technologies.Department of Space, Department of Atomic Energy and few others have also set up independent technology transfer mechanisms for industrial applications.

Several institutional mechanism and programmes have also been set up through bilateral, multilateral and international S&T cooperation arrangements. Examples are : Fluid Control Research Centre at Palghat; Ceramic Technological Institute at BHEL, Bangalore; Pollution Control Research Institute at BHEL, Hardwar.

During the last half a century of its existence, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has emerged as at) important national Science and Technology (S&T) agenqy with a vast network of national laboratories, extension and regional centres and complexes spread throughout the length and breadth of the country. CSIR has a wide charter of functions which include promotion, guidance and coordination of scientific and industrial research; collection and dissemination of information on research and industry; promote exploitation of industrial research results for development of industry , rendering assistance to other institutions conducting research, awarding fellowships and publishing scientific journals. Nearly 35% of the budget allocation is directed to R&D relating to industrial development, 20% for support services, 15% for societal programmes, 15% for basic research and 15% for other infrastructural activities including human resource development.(Ref. R&D Dec. 91 DSIR).

Despite this impressive growth, there have been a number of heated arguments about the role of CSIR and other S&T institutions for the development of industrial or services sector.

Specialised agencies like DRDO, ISRO and DAE have made some impressive achievements in their respective fields, often utilising Indian Industries for developing or fabricating many complex and sophisticated equipment required for their programmes. There have been many successes in terms of reactors, missiles, tanks, satellites or ground stations. They are no mean achievements by any standard and the nation can really be proud of them. However all these achievements have taken place in the face of denial of technologies by others and did Dot have to face the hurly-burly of market forces. So the Indian system was pushed into these developments unlike that happens in the other sectors of industrial development. The industrial development that can be attributed from the direct contribution of R&D efforts in the country (both private and public sector industries as well as national laboratories) perhaps would be of the order of about 4% of the total industrial production. (Ref: R&D in Industry - An overview - December 1991, DSIR, New Delhi). Even assuming various errors in such a computation such as non­inclusion of R&D contribution by units not recognised by DSIR, underestimates of production by industries using indigenous technologies to avoid payment of royalties and other factors such as omission of some real indigenous R&D contributions in adapting imported technologies etc, the total percentage of indigenous efforts will not exceed 10% of industrial production - a figure too low to' make the country strong enough to' face global market competition, even as a partner to' another strategic global player. If one looks at the R&D intensity of Indian exports are would naturally come across similar percentage between 5% to' 10% too small to gain through value addition in a cruel global market where the value of primary products are going down year by year, because of growth of technologies which make the share of primary raw materials and unskilled labour increasingly small in the knowledge-based industrial products and services which dominate the global transactions.

7. STATE OF TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT IN INDIA AND INCENTIVES FOR INDUSTRIAL RESEARCH

While there is a reasonable investment in R&D in the country (mostly by the Government), as described earlier, it is good to' compare it with what is happening in the developed world.

According to the Statistical Year Book 1986 of the UNESCO, the total expenditure far research and development in the world during 1970 was US $ 62.1 billion. This increased to' US $ 207.8 billion in 1980. The expenditure by the developed countries during 1970 was US $ 60.7 billion and the rest US $ 1.4 billion by the developing countries. In 1980, the share of developed countries increased approximately three times to' US $ 195.4 billion while at the same time far developing countries this has increased almost nine times to US $ 12.4 billion. The expenditure on R&D as percentage of GNP for the whole world was 1.88% in 1980. For the developed countries this figure was 2.24% and for the developing countries the figure was 0.43%. The Government's expenditure on S&T in India in terms of % of GNP falls in between that of developed countries and developing countries and is comparable to that of Australia (1%), Austria (1.2%), Canada (1.4%), France (1.8%), Italy (1.1%) and Republic of Korea (1.1%). The US spends nearly 2.7% of the GNP on R&D whereas the USSR spends nearly 4.7% of GNP on R&D. Though the S&T expenditure in India is about 1% of GNP, in terms of actual amounts it is very much less compared to the money spent by many other countries; in the latter part of the 1980's R&D expenditure were: France Rs.27,500 crores ; Great Britain Rs.21,500 crores, US Rs.2,10,OOO crores, Japan Rs.80,OOO crores per annum. Thus India's R&D expenditure is about 1.5% of USA and 3% of Japan. Expenditure to the tune of 2% of GNP is advocated for India In the next decade if the industry is to playa more dynamic role in the economic system. (Ref. DSIR report quoted earlier).

Government have taken several measures towards promoting industrial research in industry itself and to establish workable linkages between the national laboratory system, educational institutions and the industry. Several incentives have also been provided which encourage and make it financially attractive for private, joint and public sector industrial units to establish their own in-house R&D Centres.

The Technology Policy Statement of Government of India announced in January 1983 also refers to the in-house R&D units and states that in-house R&D Units in industry provide a desirable and essential interface between efforts within the national laboratories and the educational sector as well as production in industry. Appropriate incentives will be given to the setting up of R&D units in industry and for industry including those on a cooperative basis. Enterprises will be encouraged to set up R&D Units of a size to permit the accomplishment of major technological tasks”.

A scheme for granting recognition to in-house research and development units was being operated by the Department of S&T, Government of India, New Delhi from 1973. These activities are now being handled by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR)under the Ministry of Science and Technology. One of the objects of this scheme is to provide to recognised R&D units liberalized import facilities such as equipment for their laboratories, components and raw materials necessary to carry out research work. R&D infrastructure need to be updated for effecting improvements in the manufacturing process introducing new products/processes, developing substitutes for imported items, etc. Consequently a large number of industries have set up R&D units of their own.

At present there are nearly 1200 In-house R&D Units having Valid recognition from the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. A sector-wise break-up of these industrial R&D units is as under

 

Chemical & Allied Industries 350

Electrical & Electronic Industries 250

Mechanical Industries 225

Processing Industries 300

Agro Industries and Others 75

 

These R&D units have employed over 65,000 S&T personnel; this includes over 2,500 Doctorate degree holders and over 15,000 with Master Degree. The R&D units have also acquired impressive infrastructural facilities, such as, sophisticated instruments, testing equipment, pilot plant facilities, design and prototype development facilities, etc.

It is estimated that the R&D infrastructural facilities acquired by the various In-house units is of the order of Rs.800 crores. Theya re also spending nearly Rs.800 crores every year towards their R&D activities.

It is to be pointed out that Rs.800 crores R&D expenditure covers only about half of the industrial production to the country and will be approximately 0.7% of sales turnover; the other half of the industrial production is not at all influenced by any R&D within the industry. In the small scale sector the picture is rather worse. Data seems to indicate that R&D expenditure incurred by this sector in over 250 units is hardly Rs.20 crores; i.e. less than 0.1% of the turnover attributed to R&D in small scale sector.

Incentives for In-house R&D change from time to time. Some of the incentives like weighted tax deduction u/s 35(2B) and enhanced investment allowance u/s 32A(2B) have been withdrawn. Similarly preferential treatment in licensing, delicensing of industrial set-ups and commercialisation of indigenous technology by MRTP companies have been further liberalised and absorbed In the new industrial policy announced by the Government recently.

The incentives and support measures presently available to the recognised R&D units include : Import facilities, Income tax relief, Accelerated depreciation allowance, Exemptions from Price Control Order for bulk drugs, International R&D collaborations and National Awards.

IMPORT FACILITIES

All the recognised in-house research and development units and institutions can import their full requirements of technical and professional equipment, raw materials, components, spares or other items (but not consumer goods, howsoever described and office machines) under the open general licence (subject to the actual user conditions). The R&D units may also import prototypes, samples and pilot items under OGL as detailed in the conditions governing imports under OGL.

INCOME TAX RELIEF

Under Section 35(I)(i) of the Income Tax Act, the revenue expenditure laid out or expended on scientific research, by the in-house R&D units on activities related to the business of the company is allowed as full deduction. Under section 35(2) of the I.T. Act expenditure of capital nature on scientific research related to business carried on could be deducted totally from the income of the year in which this expenditure is incurred. Also contributions and deduction made to Scientific and Industrial Research Organisations (SIROs) approved by DSIR qualify for total exemption from Income Tax.

ACCELERATED DEPRECIATION ALLOWANCE

Under Rule 5(2) of the Income Tax Rules, Third Amendment vide Notification No.133/342/86-TPL dated 1st April, 1987 depreciation allowance at a higher rate of 50% is available in respect of machinery and plant installed in the accounting years relevant to the assessment year for manufacture/production of goods based on indigenous technology. The DSIR is the nodal agency for issuance of certificates for claiming Depreciation Allowance.

EXEMPTION FROM DRUG (PRICES CONTROL) ORDER, 1987

Following the new drug policy, Drug (Prices Control) Order 1987 has taken into effect, wherein para 28 deals with the right to exempt from price control. As per Drug (Prices Control) Amendment Order, 1989 dated 18th January, 1989, the production of bulk drugs from basic stage by process developed through indigenous Research and Development can be eligible for exemption from price control for a period up to 5 years. Recognised in­house R&D units are eligible to obtain a certificate of original indigenous research and development efforts from basic stage from the DSIR for the above purpose. The exemption under Drugs {Price Control) Order 1987 also applies to the processes developed by National Laboratories and acquired and actually made use of by manufacturer.

INTERNATIONAL R&D COLLABORATIONS

The Government has approved a scheme for promoting international R&D collaborations at the enterprise/institutional levels. The scheme is implemented by DSIR for giving clearances to proposals for R&D collaborations between companies/institutions in India and those in other countries. Recognised in-house R&D units are eligible to apply for permission for such international R&D collaborations. Financial assistance to a limited extent is also considered under the scheme.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR R&D PROGRAMMES

The DSIR has initiated schemes on R&D in industry and also technology absorption and adoptation. Under these schemes financial support is provided to R&D units in the priority areas for commercialisation of processes developed through in-house R&D upto bench scale/pilot scale. Support is also available for technology absorption programmes.

NATIONAL AWARDS FOR R&D EFFORTS

In order to provide recognition to the efforts of the industry towards innovative research and technological development, the National Awards for R&D efforts in industry were instituted in 1987 by the Department of Science and Industrial Research and implemented since 1988. In-house R&D units duly recognised by DSIR qualify for consideration for grant of National Awards by DSIR.

In addition the Finance Bill of 1993-94 has provided the following incentives:

To promote a cleaner and healthier environment, depreciation admissible on plant and machinery relating to environment protection and pollution control at 100% is allowed instead of the existing 40% of capital cost under the Income Tax rules.

With a view to bringing institutions of higher learning closer to the industry and more responsive to its needs, the Income Tax deduction given to contributions to approved Universities, institutes of technologies, institutes of management and equivalent institutions has been raised from 50% at present to 100%.

c) With a view to encouraging industry to make use of the facilities offered by the national laboratories and research institutions, a weighted deduction of 125%

of the contribution out of income from business or profession for research programmes in approved national laboratories and institutions carrying out research and development in natural and applied sciences has been introduced.

 

There

There are also a few other avenues for R&D funding for industries like Venture Capital Schemes and a few other industrial R&D funding through softer loans (SPREAD,PACER etc operated by ICICI). The size and scope of these schemes are rather limited to make a major impact. Most of them are relatively small in size; do not provide for pilot plants nor adequate risk coverage.

There has also been considerable squeeze on the budgets of Government funded laboratories thus leading to their seeking funds from industries and other users. While this is a good move to create an overall pressure on the laboratories, several steps to make industries and laboratories to work together are missing. For example, very often when the Government laboratorty wins a project from an industry, it is not treated as an additionality and the Government budget is correspondingly reduced. (Not so for those who don’t get any outside funds !). In addition there are too many bureaucratic hurdles not only in finalising the agreements but also in operating the budgets. Often the younger scientists and technicians are stifled to a point they do not have any incentive to work on industry sponsored projects.

At this point, it is worth quoting extensively from the NCST Approach to S&T plan (1973) in extenso :

There are many reasons for the shortcomings and failures in the country’s effort to mobilise effectively science and technology for economic and social development. But the chief among them are the deficiencies in the organisational structure of institutions for evolving science and technology policy and in implementation. It is most important to realise that the national Since & Technology Plan can succeed if, and only if, considerable managerial reform is brought about in our centres of scientific and technological activity and the administrative departments associated with them. Neither the alterations of organisational charts nor a rigid adherence to the dictum of ‘first find a man and then build laboratories around him’ are sufficient principles to work on today – what is required are some basic reforms to the ‘working culture we mean the totality of administrative establishments. But working culture we mean the totality of administrative practices, organisational structures and the commitment, motivation and effectiveness of the people working in these organisations. The scientific establishments in our country have, with rare exceptions, imbibed the culture of the Administrative services, its extensive rules and regulations, its weighty statutes and precedents and its zealously guarded and regulated hierarchies and jurisdictions. Indeed, the two problems characteristic of this administrative system – hierarchy and detailed administrative regulatory mechanisms – are the very ones which are the most inimical to the development of effective scientific institutions. There is thus today a desperate need for innovations in both the style and methodology of administrative functioning inside and outside the scientific establishment if the latter are to fulfil the high expectations raised of the capability of science and technology for making major contributions to our development. Of the changes that are of crucial importance to the future of our science & technology, the following deserve immediate attention.

In approach, it is necessary to recognise that the initial stages of any institution are crucial to the working cultures developed and play a significant role in establishing the norms, procedures and practices of the organisation. Further, when an organisation with the right type of character and atmosphere has been created ad developed, full use must be made of it to grow in its own form or pattern other institutions which may be needed for new tasks.

In the working culture of scientific institutions, a greater degree of democratisation and decentralisation needs to become the norm. Policy formulation must be the function of a body composed of specialists working in concert. Not only should this body make policy but it should also be responsible for the evaluation of the tasks being performed. This requires that a clear distinction be drawn between decision-making involving broad perspective and policy and the localised decision-making which relates to the actual implementation of programmes and formulation of policy in the areas connected with these programmes. Within the framework erected by the policy-making body, the executive authority should have the fullest freedom to proceed with the implementation of the programme without further reference to the policy-making body or to the secretariat handling day-to-day administration on its behalf. Whereas the delegation of powers must be carried out at all levels as a conscious act of policy, the vesting of authority and power at various levels of the organisation must be simultaneously associated with the concept of accountability. The solution of the problem of misuse or wrong use of authority does not lie in reducing autonomy all-round but in selecting the right people to manage the various laboratories and scientific organisations.

In the recruitment procedures it is necessary for all major scientific and technological organisations to evolve, and of course make public, procedures to suit their own needs and functions independent of the UPSC. Moreover, the schemes for career advancement for scientists should ensure that the scientist who is above-average is not allowed to stagnate for want of higher posts in the department or organisation and that the pay of a scientist is determined by the quality of his work, not by a rigid pay structure. Furthermore, it should not be necessary for him to change the nature of his job to secure a promotion. The promotion aspects of scientific and technical personnel at all levels need to be brought on par with that in the administrative services and related to the former's experience, attainments and contributions to the national economy.

It is imperative that the scientific organisations, institutions and laboratories should be exempted from having to go through the Directorate General of Supplies and Disposals for procurement of stores and equipment and that they should be allowed to set up their own purchase sections. A material management and inventory mechanism also needs to be set up in the large institutions and organisations to coordinate the purchasing activities. Foreign exchange needs to be made available to scientific institutions on a liberal basis. The amounts sanctioned by the policy-making body of each institution should be considered by the Ministry of Finance as bulk amounts, specific details of which need not be submitted to the Ministry. The delays occasioned by numerous references and cross-references of scientific matters to non-scientific accounts personnel needs to be eliminated and the existing procedures of accounts and audit modified to take into consideration the special needs of scientific institutions.

After 20 years of the NCST document the situation is still worse. Now we have an additional problem that there are far too many mediocre scientists and managers as well as those >From who man many S&T departments who, along with those from administrative services, have a vested interest against any change.

Thus we have a peculiar situation in which S&T system has become 'autonomous' and has strong vested interests built in $ working against change and an Industry (private and public) which never knew well how to deal with technology - either purchase or indigenous development, (since it was never really called upon to do so) and now faces a severe problem of global competition in a field which it feels is not levelled.

8. MAJOR DEFICIENCIES IN OUR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY POLICIES

Instead of our trying to attempt a survey of what has been described above we could repeat what is told in the NCST 1973 document and repeat how true ! :

"The first major deficiency of Science Policy in our country is thus revealed. It is an absence of rational policies for science or guiding principles for decision-making on the magnitude and distribution of funds for scientific research. This deficiency is, in part, a consequence of others discussed below.

The question "how much for science and technology?" can only be answered by asking and answering two other questions namely, "what is this science for?" and "what is the technology supposed to do?". Neither question appears to have been asked in the past, at any rate not explicitly within our planning machinery.

An attempt to answer the questions would involve an analysis of the broad social and economic setting of each of the areas of scientific activity. It would also require an analysis of the pattern of the demand for science and technology inputs in the existing system of production and industrial and non-industrial services. These demands would stem from (a) an array of direct requirements from import substitution to waste utilisation; and (b) a range of indirect requirements from the necessity to build up and diffuse on a large scale various capabilities in science and technology. Demands would also be perceived in work directed towards enhanciang the productivity of existing agricultural and industrial activity and from the two important welfare services of health and education. Such analyses have not been made.

The second deficiency is in the set of policies relating to the performance of our scientific institutions. The most serious serious of these has been the continued neglect of badly needed organisational and administrative reform, including personnel policies. Where reforms have been recommended, these have not been fully implemented.

The values and methods of decision-making in the majority of our scientific institutions continue to be either feudal in character or they tend to subordinate the role of the scientist to that of the bureaucrat.

The third major deficiency concerns our policies towards the import of technology. It has not been recognised in adequate measure that it is very necessary to gear the indigenous scientific effort in such a way that it complements and, in time, displaces the imported technology. Also, there has not been a determined effort to utilise the capabilities aleady developed in the country. This lack of effort has, in considerable degree, been due to the absence of an active agency to promote indigenous technology.

The fourth deficiency has been in the area of matching the demand for science - such as has been perceived, with the supply of science – such as has been performed. The communication gap between industry and the industrial research laboratory remains large. When scientific institutions have had to interact with Government departments, the latter have been totally unable to appreciate the imperatives of science and the requirements of scientists. Emphasis on financial trivia and a lack of appreciation of the cost of lost time are the chief characteristics of the existing situation.

These deficiencies cannot be dealt with piecemeal and one at a time. The task of utilising science and technology to provide the minimum needs of our populace is all of a piece.”

The Technology Policy Statement (TPS) of January 1983, meticulous in its details covered every aspect of the need for indigenous technology development. It however did not provide for any mechanism to address the serious operational problems summarised so well in the 1973 NCST document. TPS, 1983, more or less amounted to a plea for more of Government, when Government policies as well as the resultant behaviour f the captains of industry (private and public sector) and the Government bureaucracy contributed to more and more of the initial seed of hiatus between industry and indigenous S&T.

9. WHAT NEXT FOR STIMULATING TECHNOLOGICAL DYNAMISM IN INDIAN INDUSTRY

The earlier sections clearly indicate the deleterious role played by industrial licensing policies and methods in inhibiting innovation in Indian industries and therefore their search for benefits from R&D. On the other hand the S&T institutions either got into isolated excellencies in their own (or national) mission oriented tasks or in some areas of basic research or in many cases had locked themselves in cobwebs of bureaucratic organisational structures. This is true of academia as well. There was no incentive to work on industrially or commercially oriented projects. The results are before us to see.

So what is next ?

There are some good signs. First, industries have been freed of licensing requirements. While many other aspects of Government functioning would require considerable de-bureaucratisation, it is a good beginning. The pressure on Government to seek foreign investments are adding another dimensions to the sweeping of certain unnecessary bureaucratic cobwebs in the system. These benefits will also percolate to the Indian industries, as well, in due course. The general consensus on such liberalisation indicates its irreversibility thus adding an assurance for the business person.

The process of development of linkages between Industry and R&D systems appear to be rather slow. In a report of Second National Conference on In-house R&D Industry 22-23 September 1988, New Delhi organised by DSIR & CEI, the then President of CEI stated :

"R&D is crucial for competitiveness. It is vital to growth. It is the key to maintaining market leadership. But for R&D to be meaningful, to be effective, there is need for a true team effort.

Who are the key players? To begin with, as always, it is the Government which has to provide the environment. The second key player is the group representing the publicly funded R&D establishments. Here we have a readymade resource on which industry can draw heavily without reinventing the wheel all the time. This sector needs to be even more customeri- oriented and purposeful than ever before. The third key player is the group of educational institutions, who provide the very basis for our long term technological growth and advancement. The fourth key player is industry itself. Maximum responsibility rests on the shoulders of industry because it has to deliver, and it has to deliver efficiently. Finally, the other key player is the customer himself, he has to demand, he has to learn to demand, he has to learn to discriminate.

For our national R&D efforts to really succeed, there must be harmony between these key players. Ifwe do not pull together, and if we work at cross-purposes, we are not going to . progress. Indeed, for a country of our size, only 1100 In-house R&D units, with 45,000 R&D personnel employed in them, with an expenditure of Rs.600 crores per annum is not something to shout from the roof-tops about. We have to do much more on the R&D front.

We, in CEI, are deeply conscious of this and are, therefore, working through efforts such as this Conference, to focus on action by the different sectors.

May I, on behalf of CEI, seek your indulgence to focus special attention on the 'action' that needs to be taken action by the key players. And, most important, the need to work as partners in progress rather than as adversaries."

Let us look at a CEI document of 1993:

“India continues to lag behind in technological progress. Its industrial portfolio is more heavily weighted towards lower growth industries and in which it has lower market shares. Amongst the newly industrialised economies, it lags behind Korea, Taiwan and Singapore in scientific and technological capacity, with a market share in world exports that is lower than that for most of these countries. For example, reverse engineering is a measure of technological capability of a nation and India does lag behind. Its competitiveness rank amongst these economies is a lowly 12th.

And of course, what is true for India is true for most Indian firms as well. The only competitive advantage that India has of low labour costs is being exercised by Indonesia, Taiwan, China and Korea as well. This, coupled with the extremely low investments in R&D over the past decades has magnified the problem many times over.

First there were no standard prices for the know-how packages and therefore, the technology market had a heavy price dependence on the degree of competition that was available or could be generated by a buyer.

Secondly, the information that could have a effect on the buyers option, negotiation leverage and the price and other terms of technology purchase was extremely difficult to obtain.

Thirdly, the technology seller try to impose numerous restrictive conditions in the agreements governing technology transactions.

Fourthly, buyers also found that the sellers often sold obsolete technology which the seller himself was often in the process of discontinuing use of in his own plant.

Finally there was a high cost of technology transactions from the technology buyers.

These factors, collectively led to a neglect of technology management at Indian Corporate level. The fast pace of change necessitates a new look at technology management in Indian industry primarily because of the following reasons :

i) Rapid changes in technology demanding continuous monitoring and upgradation of technology systems.

ii) The intuitive process of decision making is not suitable for complexities involved in technology development and implementation.

iii) Complex technology systems are non-linear.

iv) Technology acquisition and transfer has become more and more difficult.

v) The technology gap in hi-tech industries (bio-tech, electronics and new materials) is ever widening between developed and developing countries.

vi) Most of the emerging technologies are not simple technologies but clusters of sophisticated technologies.

vii) Strategic alliance and collaborative R&D in the developed nations make technology acquisitions in emerging areas a difficult propositions.

In other words, technology management is getting very complex because of the following trends in the global sphere :

i) Response time for managers has become short because of the short lead time and intense competition.

ii) Available information is scattered in a number of sources.

iii) Large firms are investing considerable amounts of funds for generating new technology and this has a snow falling effect or economies of accumulation.

iv) Emerging technologies need capabilities in a number of overlapping disciplines.

v) Technology development is becoming very expensive.

vi) Commercial and technical coupling is crucial for success.

vii) Reverse engineering is becoming difficult.

viii) Globalisation of technology permits intense differentiation as well as specialisation for the developed countries.

The above information are given in a background paper, by CII dated 18 March 1993 for the Conference in Competitive advantage through Technology a case for India. It further summarises the following few elements. Some of the approaches listed for managing technology in a highly competitive environment are also given in the same CII document.

a) Low cost high quality manufacturing facilities

* economies of scale

* economies of scope

* continuous upgradation of manufacturing facilities

* large investments for quality control

* regular and continuous improvements in production

process

b) Upgradation of human skills

flexible and multi-functional new product teams

job rotation

technology assimilation skills

intensive skill development

commercialisation skills

emphasis on organizational learning

operator/engineer communication skills

c) Technology information support

Continuous scanning for new technologies

 

*continuous scanning for new-technologies

Techn

* technology forecasting

*commercial Intelligence network

*analysis and Assessment of commercial and tech information

*extensive use of patents

d) Promotion of commercialisation

*Multiple technology acquisition arrangements

*Intensive functional coordination

*Long planning horizon

*Emphasis on productivity and quality

*Strong manufacturing – marketing – financing linkages

*Marketing network

*Intensive R&D efforts

*Horizontal flow of information

e) Fast diffusion of new technologies

*Technology development cooperation

*Viable industrial structure

*Competition at national level but cooperation at R&D level

*Nurturing new industries

*Technology orientation in education

*Low interest rate

*Transfer and assimilation of imported technology

*Rigorous standardization

*Active industry associations

*Venture capital

*National R&D problems

*Integration of trade, technology/industrial policies

f) Globalisation

*World technology trend monitoring

*Corporate information networks

*Manufacturing abroad

10. KEY ELEMENTS OF TECHNOLOGY POLICY

These are divided in four sections as under :

   10.1 KEY ELEMENTS FOR THE INDIAN INDUSTRY’S POLICY TOWARDDS TECHNOLOGY

i) Given the hiatus between R&D institutions/academia as explained in the earlier sections, it is not an easy task to build strong linkages with indigenous R&D laboratories. The hiatus has a long evolutionary history and has been institutionalised in several sides. But still it is to be attempted seriously as a crash programmes devoting considerable executive time of the higher management. Business houses should be ready to assess the laboratories openly and aggressively in terms of the requirements for their own business-oriented technology generation. They should also be bold enough to articulate the administrative problems ‘to break the bureaucratic systems’ since the Government is in general favourable to make the laboratories/academic institution more commercially oriented. This is not merely a national service but it is in their business interest that our industry leaders take this as their major task in coming months and years.

ii) Invest in R&D projects in the national laboratories, often make them joint project. Avail of tax concessions. Actively lobby for more tax concession for worthwhile joint efforts having longer gestation periods but having a potential for long term competitive advantages in global markets.

iii)Look for strategic R&D alliances with international players but work with them through our leading R&D institutions.

iv)Do not slacken the pace of import of emerging or new technologies. But use as good Indian technological teams in such negotiations. Also use the internationally accepted bargaining tools of threat of building your own policy. The R&D laboratories can be used effectively in such bargains.

v)Do not be timid in exporting your technologies either developed in your industry or developed in another Indian institution which you have adopted. You may buy technologies from those who are advanced than you and sell to those who may not be as well as you. Aggressive sale of technologies can keep your system dynamic and fit.

Look for global technological trends. Institute Technology watch to change your business plans. Look for Patents, buy some at earlier stages to develop the process or product yourselves to get global rights.

 

Technology Policies in India

         - A Survey of their evolution and Suggestions for future policies

 By Y S RAJAN  (1994)

This paper was written during 1994, at the request of an economist friend who wanted to understand about technology policies in India. He wanted to know why Indian industry is not able to be in the forefront of technologies as in countries like Japan, Korea etc. who had also started later than Europe. He desired to know about the role of national laboratories. It is at that time I did a detailed research on the evolution of the industrial policies right since independence, as mere study of science and technology policies (titled as such by Govt.) would not suffice. This paper is a result of this work. Extensive quotes from relevant policy documents, parliamentary statements etc are given to make the paper fairly self-sufficient.

While the paper itself was not published then, the ideas contained therein have been reflected in many of my later talks and writings. Importantly I had attempted several actions to implement the suggestions.

I am not placing this paper on the website because it contains many useful information for researchers in the field of technology management and technology policies. Still many remnants of the evolutionary process are found in the S&T system and in Industries. It is important to take actions to remove them. This papers will give insights for such actions. Also useful for other developing countries who could have gotten into technology related problems for correcting themselves.

A more detailed treatment of the S&T policies required in the era of liberalisation (and market forces) are given in one of the chapters of the book “Empowering Indians”.

KEY WORDS:  Indian Industrial Policies; Technology Policy; evolution of Indian S&T policies; hiatus between S&T and Industry; Industrial R&D; S&T and Indian economy; R&D for Indian economy, Reforms for S&T system; Reforms in Industry R&D.

 

*****

 

 

 

India 2020

An unique book which unfolds a vision for Developed India by 2020 using technologies triggering economic and social development. It is based on sophisticated technology forecasting and assessment methods including dolphi surveys conducted by TIFAC for about two years. This book is a condensed version written in a lucid style. It is still very good source book for a number of ideas for action and also for technological paths. It is also written in an inspiring style as witnessed by its continuing best seller status crossing more than 100,000 books. Also it has been translated in more than 10 Indian languages some of them crossing 100,000 by themselves.

Much of what is forecast in the book are coming true despite skepticism in the late nineties when the book came out. Book also contains a chapter as to what various groups, Industries, SME, NGO, MNC’s, Individuals, PSU’s, Govt.,  media and many others can do.

Key words :     Vision; developed India; technology forecasting; foresight; TIFAC; 2020.

Higher Education and Ph.D’s in indian universities

One common thing I notice in India including high-level Govt. or Industry Forums is that whenever we discuss about higher education, the entire discussion shifts to IIT’s, IIM’s and sometimes IISc as if others practically don’t exist. Similarly on University-Industry interaction one shifts to CSIR. I think if generalisations are done from such a narrow base of experiential opinions (often not even studied in a systematic form), and extrapolated to whole of the country and recommendations made, there will not even be "hava mahals". They will be in stratosphere or exosphere! While I respect these elite experiences (India needs them too) but to deal all others in contempt as if other experiences are meaningless, then we cannot create a Knowledge Society. Let us not forget the absolute numbers involved in the demography of India and the texture of Indian GDP.

It is such a narrow thinking which makes people not to think about humanities as a part of higher education! How can anybody be a good researcher or academic if one is not curious, respectful and sensitive to other areas of epistemology? Incidentally IIT Bombay has a Humanities department which produces Ph.D’s – even discounting purely the economics types, there are people in linguistics and philosophy. There are young scholars and they seem to be very motivated. No doubt other institutions have many such students. 

So let the dialogue of higher education and Ph.D’s cover the 18000 – odd colleges in India in addition to University departments. If for nothing else, all these colleges have Ph.D holding persons as Professors, Asstt. Professors, not just in Universities alone. I am aware of people from these colleges registering for Ph.D’s. The facts of what has happened to engineering Ph.D’s, (whose production is going down), need  take away the dialogue to one obscure corner, forgetting these realities of India.

In the overall, Indian Industry employs about 50,000 Ph.D’s. If intake is less now, it is due to the overall saturation of employment in many mature and older Industries (as it is with national labs of ISRO, BARC, CSIR, ICAR, Central Universities etc) whose current intakes are low; mostly as replacements for retirees plus small additions.).

New demands and the massive expansion is in relatively low value (comparison to global developed country standards) operations in newly created industries. Hence the demand for researchers is low. Most of our IT sector has a very poor R&D expenditure by sales turnover ratio. Only some of Pharma sector industries have a healthy ratio of 5 – 6%. In other words, currently Indian industry or agriculture is not driven by R&D/technology intensive activity. Most of them are in the ‘follower stages’. Also very little of the research output of CSIR, IIT etc have reached market place. This is what I explain with an analogy that individual molecules succeeding in such actions; naturally with low impacts on the overall economy or business. I myself am personally aware of 300 such academics/research scientists who have good interesting and fruitful interactions with Industry. My best guess is that we will have about 2000 of them all over India but at individual molecular levels (such persons are there in Industrial in-house units as well without being appreciated by their own higher managements!).

Now coming to more clustered activities (I say it is nano i.e. a few molecules coming together but still not big enough cluster to form solid or liquid! Some other persons refer to crucible effect.) it is not just NMTLI which has done a good efforts with 50. There are other examples from DST, TDB, TIFAC, DSIR’s PATSER scheme, DBT, DAE, ISRO etc which have together about 500 or more examples. TIFAC-CORE (Centres for Relevance and Excellence) have unique (non-IIT, non-IISc) scheme of Industry directly financially contributing to colleges/academic Institutions about 25 in all ranging from Match Making industries to advanced pharma to IT etc. All these have contributed many small clusters focussed in specific areas, to the overall scene of Industry – Academia interaction and Advanced research including Ph.D. BITS Pilani is another low cost, all-India experience. Another recent development is that about 300 or more R&D Centres are being operated in India by foreign MNC’s and the number are growing. It proves that output of the general (often disparaged) higher education system has vitality; men and women scientists hired for these foreign R&D centres are ordinary Indians coming from various parts of India.

But bigger clusters (beyond aggregation of several molecules) which can trigger further build up around them and later massive reproduction as it happened around Standford, North Carolina Triangle or Israel etc have not taken place in India. Then persons with advanced degrees like Ph.D. will be in demand and also University Professors will "automatically" know what Industry may want in advance. (If one has to await an Industry to tell what researches/courses are required, then U-I interaction will take place only at individual molecular levels).

Even when such a self-replicating demand takes place (which will require really good venture capital, not like the current ones which normally chase bandwagons !), still a large number of Ph.D’s have to still spend majority of their time in an academic set up. Industry absorption will still be smaller in comparison. That is where the real "catch" is in India. Thanks to (!!) micro-management of UGC, AICTE etc which specify how many Ph.D’s are to be there in faculty for recognition / approval etc and how to regulate promotion with M.Phil above or with Ph.D, there is a demand for Ph.D’s even in Humanities! That is why the demand-supply law regulates the Ph.D production whatever one may say from roof-tops of S&T/Academic establishments or from high level committees.

Most engineering colleges manage the Ph.D stipulation for the Director/Principal etc by getting Ph.D’s from ISRO, BARC, CSIR, IIT’s etc regular retired or voluntary retired. A fresh engineering Ph.D. won’t like to go to such colleges and old Universities/IIT’s have very little opening.

Totally outside the Govt. regulated system but due to obsessions with single point entry tests (JEE, CAT etc), there is a large non-academic industry which is a non-trivial part of our GDP ! Coaching classes. Some best minds go there as it gives money.

Therefore unless we can create an environment in which an individual researcher in a National Lab (in small percentage) or an University (in much larger percentages), is respected and enabled to pursue life time pursuit of research (science, humanities, engineering etc) and can have a social recognition (not awards please!!), the academics/researchers will be automatically incentivised to chase "positions of power" or money (which by itself is a power !). That is the main reason Indian science research is really a follower/laggard type. If society/governance systems reward and respect only Academic Administrators and Academic-Politicians, then youth will aspire for such positions/ Since openings are low and upward raising is never sure in academic/S&T systems (unlike for IAS, IFS, IIM’s etc), ambitious youth go for such positions in IAS, MBA etc. I will urge reading of an article on Prof T R Seshadri which appeared in a publication of Vigyan Prasar – an Institution under Department of Science & Technology [DREAM 2046 March 2008 by Dr Subodh Mahanti]. My best guess is that about 2000 – 3000 Seshadri’s in all fields have "died" (physically alive of course) in Indian labs/Universities though Govt. pours Rs/35,000 crore per annum (this year non plan + plan) for Indian S&T sector.

Incidentally it is hoped that humanities will receive a special grants for advanced research instead of being starved by UGC. This is an important recommendation to be made by everybody interested in higher education.

Coming back to the question of respecting the Researcher, it would mean drastically changing the hierarchy of Vice Chancellor, Dean, etc. in Universities and by removing the apartheid of affiliated colleges. It will mean a drastic change to all of administrative and financial rules to delegate powers to all the faculty except for a few things like vigilance cases, dismissal etc. Even for recruitment, there has to be a large say by the research/academic faculty, if there is some biases of "networks", so be it. If people cannot work together, one cannot hope for creativity which is crucial for research.

For those who think that outputs from most of our non-IIT, non-IIT, non-institutions, elite are irrelevant, let us look at numbers. Even many persons who excell in North America (estimated to be some 2.5 million) are not all from IIT’s etc. Numbers won’t match. It is the ordinary colleges and Universities which have shaped them. So with most of personnel in Industries though some vocal sections may say they are useless! Then why they rush to book these students from ordinary engineering colleges at 5th Semesters! Also let us look at the total composition of IT, ITES, Telecom, B.Tech etc sectors let alone other sectors.

We have to recognise that there is a place for various diverse capabilities given the diversities and the fine texture of Indian GDP generation. No question that all these averages have to be raised up continually. But only a narrow peak occurring in a few places does not add to the total area under the curve required for the huge growing economy and especially aspiring youth who are ready to go out to make a living if they cannot get right incomes in India.

I would also recommend reading of an article by Dr D Lal in Current Science – Volume 68, Number 9, 10th May 1995 “The Character of Science in India : Then and Now”.

Those who desire to read this article by Dr Lal or one on Dr T.R. Seshadri may contact me in this website.

Arts,science and business in indian higher education

Role of Translators and Literary Scholars
 

by

Y.S. Rajan

Principal Adviser, CII

[This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.]

[website:www.ysrajan.com]


at

A One-Day Seminar on Translation and Literary Studies


Trilokam Study Circle,Thanjavur


Respected Scholars & Friends :

Invocation

I am privileged to participate in this One-Day Seminar on Translation and Literary Studies to celebrate the 80th Birth Day of Prof K G Seshadri. Though I came in personal contact with him just about a decade ago, I revere him as an invaluable guru. He teaches through examples, and also through silence. For a person like me who had had many decades of practical tasks in science, technology and related business management, there was a dormant childhood desire to explore and to venture into original creation of Tamil and English poetry and also do some Tamil writing. His encouragement when I showed manuscript of "Nenjaga Malargal" (my first Tamil poetry book) about a decade ago, spurred me into further work. More importantly, I was delighted to see the English Translation of Bharatiar Padalgal by KGS and his friends, done under the aegis of The Tamil University, Thanjavur. The relationship of guru-Shishya continued from then onwards... I later learnt from the book by KGS "Tightrope Walking" and "Random Harvest" that Triloka Sitaram who inspired KGS & TNR (whom they consider as a Guru) was the same Triloka Sitaram whose serial writings in Ananda Vikatan around early mid 1950's about Bharati's songs, made Bharati enter into my blood streams, cells and brain cells, when I was just 10 years old and was studying at Palayam Kottai. In my Tamil Bhakti poetry book "Kavithanjli" brought out by SASTRA, I received the full blessings of Prof K G Seshadri. What a series of coincidences!. I do not want to go through more of my autobiographical observations: some of them will appear like what is told by KGS in his Translator's Preface for Nectar (Uyirin Yaltirai by M V Venkataram) !

INDIAN HIGHER EDUCATION (IHE)

For those who narrow their sights to a few areas of shine, IHE will be reduced to IIT's, IIM's, IISc, ISB and perhaps some select central Universities. Rest of it, is all dark for them. For some criticising and blaming the bulk of IHE have become fashion statements. They use many words like Excellence, Global Bench Marking, Innovation, etc. as their prescriptions. Some would like to see them all closed down. Some deride that they are just money making ventures.

In absolute size IHE is very large because the country is large and it has a huge population. But in terms of number of persons enrolled to population eligible for enrolment, called Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER), it is about 10%, amongst the lowest groups in the world. Planners and governments now talk about increasing it to about 15% in about seven years. There are a large number of writings on the subject. I have also spoken and written about these issues : on policy issues, practical issues etc. Some of them have appeared in books, journals etc., and in some of the books written by me. Also one can visit my website www.ysrajan.com.

While I am not unaware of many of the inadequacies and infirmities in our educational system in general and IHE in particular, on the whole I envision an optimistic future in the near, medium and long term. The demands of society and economy will accelerate them towards relevance and excellence. Also I note that during the past 60 years, many mistakes have been done; even those who were at the helm of affairs when the mistakes were done, now realise that many oppressive structures built to control and guide our educational systems have in fact stymied them. There is a major shift in the mindsets. There is a demand from people (even from those who are in the lower levels of social and economic ladders) for education and IHE.

I will attempt during the next few minutes of my talk to explore some of the emerging perspectives. I would also like to point out some possible dangers to be avoided. Now let me explain the first three words of the title of this talk, in the above context.
 
ARTS, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS

By the word ARTS, I include most of humanities (leaving aside economics and law). The word SCIENCE is meant to include science, technology, engineering, medicine, pharma and such professional skill related subjects. In the word BUSINESS is included economics, commerce, law, business management studies, accountancy etc – all pertaining wealth creation, wealth management, and wealth protection.

In the current phase of Indian economic growth, BUSINESS related studies are the most sought after ones especially those which finally end up with Masters Degree in Business Management. In general those who do B.Com. earn much better than those who study B.A. or B.Sc. Corporate law is the most favoured subject for those who get into law. In fact most of the studies relating to fashion, media etc will fall in this basket.

Science as defined here, encompasses a very wide range. No doubt Medical Degrees and Engineering degrees are also most sought after, leading to well earning jobs. Not so with pure sciences, even with post-graduate degrees. Those with mere science degrees have to add some specialisation to get some relevance to the job market.

It may be some diploma in management; IT skills; Clinical testing etc or straightforward additional qualifications like MBA, Financial Management etc.

In Business starting with commerce, economics, BBA, MBA etc., there are plethora of qualifications required to serve the newly emerging businesses in India. Though many of the businesses will use big words like innovation, new technology etc., most of them are follower type. Basic technologies and resultant business management etc have been well tested abroad in the developed world, several years ago. Only such items are allowed to be imported by the parent companies. Of course, for the existing status of Indian companies, such (recent old) new items are a great jump forward. Similarly in the IT related sectors, Indian companies mostly operate in the low end of the value chain tasks. Thus in the overall, demands from Indian companies are low for researchers, developers or for innovation. They want for operating personnel and managers who can implement foreign company given business plans. Of course there is a large knowledge jump, in terms of being a follower. Nothing wrong. Thus the requirements for Indian workforce are to meet these demands. That is why there is a demand for business oriented learning. The life skills associated with these are in English (this way the business wants in terms of pronunciation etc) and other skills in presentation etc. Supporting knowledge bases as in law etc are also orienting towards corporate laws. Media has also emerged as a major service industry. So anything that makes big business attracts people.

CURRENT STATUS OF ARTS, SCIENCE AND BUSINESS IN IHE

In the recent past before independence, around the time when KGS was studying in college such a sharp differentiation of Arts, Science and Business Studies did not exist. Business related studies were very small in content.

Studies on law were not narrowed to have greater emphasis on corporate law as it is now. Law encompassed many aspects of human life, philosophy, morals, ethics etc in addition to the legal provisions of governance.

Arts and Science were much more intertwined. A Raman could join Accountants General’s office and still start research in physics. That is why you find in that generation, persons with much more well rounded knowledge. You will find in KGS’s writings many easily flowing references to scientific truths. (Not that he was familiar with the nitty-gritty details or mechanical aspects of experiments and calculations, but he has a general understanding.)

Post independent India did carry this holism in studies for some time. The pressures of modernising the economy and industrialisation, demanded specialists who can solve immediate problems of civil engineering, mechanical, electrical etc and also doctors to handle public health system. Then other specialised demands of agriculture, trade etc.

Compartmentalisation started between sciences, engineering, etc commerce emerging as a special study (later transforming to Business studies as I have defined here). These were (are) much rewarding professions. Arts started getting relegated to the last option only after other avenues are closed. With Economics almost becoming (world over) more of a “Science” and later as “Business”, Arts was left with languages, philosophy, history etc.

In the IHE now, technically (i.e. statistics wise) the absolute number of persons with Arts is still the highest, because that is the one higher education which can be imparted with the least cost. Also nobody feels responsible for the job opportunity of a B.A. Therefore well you can try for IAS (having only 80 – 100 seats per year); take LLB or take B.Ed and become a teacher in the thousands of schools that are being built or the luckier ones try for BPO after getting some computer skills. Also nowadays demands for English speaking persons in the call centres help some of them. So nowadays most B.A. courses have all sorts of contents to enable adaptation to some jobs that come in the way e.g. retail stores training; IT skills; hospitality; tourism, etc.

This takes care of those who can handle English in their B.A. preferably as a medium of instructions. What happens to lakhs of students who do B.A. in Indian languages with perhaps one English subject as an add on. Most of them can aspire to be an elementary school teacher or get few local government jobs or mostly something else in the unorganised sector.

Short term solutions are to increase English speaking and writing skills for them who do B.A. and add doses of other job oriented skills mentioned before.

In the field of Science adjustment is much more rapid. Most B.Sc. courses are either closing down or getting oriented to job skills (i.e. B.Sc. Biotechnology); B.Sc. (microbiology); B.Sc. (Computer Sciences) etc.) Very few go towards pure sciences for advanced post-graduate courses like M.Sc. Physics, Chemistry etc. There is a strong job orientation. Much of the better ones (and also those who can afford) completely by pass B.Sc. and go after 10 + 2 directly to degrees in engineering, Pharma, Medicare, Fashion design etc. Very few of them go for higher post-graduate and doctorate studies. Thus even in the professional courses, there is a high pressure on having qualified lecturers, professors etc. (This is true of IIT’s as well !). Even many who go for engineering degrees chase business post-graduate degrees in India or abroad to have better earning opportunities.

Business studies prepare a whole range of persons who are trained to handle low value bank jobs, BPO’s to middle and upper end jobs in companies. For this lower end entry into them is easier than those of professional engineering, medical etc. Hence B.Com, BBA, Corporate law courses, media journalism etc have greater rush of students than for pure arts. Law is the sword in the modern ‘civilised’ society; that gives the protection and competitive edge in the modern world especially for the corporates.

It is difficult to reverse this trend for quite some time, in view of overly centralised control on education since independence and IHE in particular and also because of the obdurate isolation practised by our academicians in the earlier decades; thus leading to a near complete irrelevance to the demands of society and economy.

Those of KGS’s generation who had the advantage of holistic education with the three components reasonably interspersed, will be appalled by this process.

Even a person of my generation would feel bad. Though sharp divisions of science and arts took place during our education, still what was taught for English, Tamil or other Indian languages was much more holistic than what it is today. Also a desire to read more was inculcated.

Reading books from different disciplines was a pleasure.

Today’s children (students) have many other distractions of infotainment as TV’s, movies etc. Also pressures of competitive studies, entrance test preparations, narrow gates at the employment channels etc put a peculiar focus on parents and students : Somehow finish through various hurdles and get into a well paying job.

Any transition will take at least a decade or more. The current pressures will continue.

ANY ACTION ? OR DO WE JUST GIVE UP ?

I had given a broad brush picture of IHE with only a few strokes to capture a complex picture. It is inadequate though not totally wrong at a macro level of understanding. One major conclusion, will therefore be that there is no use to try to do anything. Let debates go on. Globalisation and market forces will take care of IHE over a couple of decades. Let us watch. Flowing with the tide is often safer and better.

I am not against the ‘churning’ that is taking place in the IHE. Not just the market forces but an oppressive and obsolete centralised control systems (UGC, AICTE, NACC, Governments, misguided elite public opinion etc) are all working on IHE. This churning will remove many cobwebs of the past.

But I am not one who would like to recommend no action :

“Maa tey sangostu akarmani” is what Sri Krishna says in Bhagwad Gita. “Muyatriyinmai Inmai Pukuththi vidum” is what Tiruvalluvar has reminded us.

Other scriptures would also say similar things. The great Sage who was comfortable with ‘Nirvana’ and ‘Shunya’ continued to operate within the society trying to suggest changes. There are many other such examples even up to the recent times.

So what can be the actions ?

It is impractical and also perhaps unnecessary to expect all the students entering into higher education, to be holistic, well rounded scholars. That could have been the goal when IHE was limited to a microscopic minority of the total eligible student population with GER’s less than or about 1% even at the time of independence. Modern economy described as Knowledge Society requires an army of well trained personnel in super specialised skills in select small areas of languages, law, history, science, accountancy, medicine, engineering etc. Though they may be "“white collared" and often work in airconditioned rooms, they are not too much different from the workers of the Fordist production lines in terms of application of their own creative minds while at work. Even those who are in creative areas, it is often confined to their own very narrow disciplines. (The real demand is for many para-professionals. This is also partly true in the developed countries).

Even about the researcher – academic the Nobel Laureate Murray Gell Mann points out how a person choosing a narrow subject area and beating it to death with many publications finally ends up as a professor. He continues to be an academic peer even after all his work has been proven irrelevant or even wrong. Gell Mann pleads for much more opening up of the definition of academic – research space to include those who do not do original research but critically read large amount of information in several areas and disciplines and write reviews connecting many disciplines, in simple understandable form for many other scholars, specialists and ordinary readers. (Those who desire to read the full quote from him and the context in which I have quoted can read my book “Empowering Indians with economic business and technology strengths for the twenty first century – Chapter 13 : Science Communication in the twenty first century – Har Anand Publication revised edition 2002).

This is one broad area in which the holistic education can be attempted for a select few within IHE. They will learn anything from language, philosophy, culture, literature, poetry, science, economics, sociology, psychology etc even while trying to specialise in one or two areas in order to fit into the economic demands of the modern world. Some academics including those who have ‘retired’ should try to fulfill the tasks mentioned by Murray Gell Mann as the internet explosion is giving its negative effects : many people have lost the ability to discern the truth or facts from massive overload of information. Many elites are carried away by a headline or a print out or a summary.

If many of us try and attempt multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary writings, even while fulfilling the needs of the other, usual demands of current society, there is a good possibility that many others will follow. Don’t worry as to who will publish. Put in an internet but have a network of discerning scholars to continuously interact critique, and exchange views.

I am confident that during the next few years, the whole of the educational system especially IHE will be liberated from many of the current governmental controls, not necessarily with a plan and vision, but under crisis as was done for our economy in 1991. Such a liberated IHE will create a few institutions to internalise the above mentioned elements of holistic education in their IHE. Many such experiments will begin, some of them even messily. But the result will be that a few good holistic educational centres will emerge. Therefore my appeal to many academics, scholars, and intellectuals is not to give up but to create interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary Indian writing on the lines mentioned in the earlier part of this section. They are crucial in order to ensure that a large number of people are creative and be discerning in the knowledge economy.

The above mentioned task is a universal need. Many academic institutions in the developed world have begun such tasks. They will do more. That is yet another reason why I am confident that such efforts will begin in India in a few years at least in a few places (we are more confident as followers !!).

In addition to this task, which is nearly universal and modern task, there is yet another India specific need. That is the protection of Indian culture and therefore languages. Countries like Japan, Korea, China, Israel etc even while achieving high levels scientific, technological and business strengths as followers, they did not abandon their languages. All modern knowledge and skill bases were given to the young and the grown ups through their country’s language. Europe did it earlier and even smaller European countries have ensured that their languages are keeping pace even now. Their children learn in their own languages and in addition learn English, French, German. In future they will all learn Chinese, Japanese, Korean etc. Even Arabic countries and Iran (Persian) have kept up reasonable pace.

But what about the Indian languages. I am not unaware of the complex sensitivities around Indian languages and the internecine animosities unnecessarily cultivated under the name of democratic politics (identity politics).

A common feature for all Indian languages is that their presence in internet is very low. Ability of these languages to handle most modern new knowledge systems is also limited as there are no attempts at translations into Indian languages. The upper end children, all over India, who are in a sense crème a la crème (due to the opportunities they get from the childhood) invariably use Indian languages (at best) to speak at home and they don’t learn any Indian language well. Still Indian culture flows to them through English version of movies/animations; also in some Indian languages used by visual media.

But languages are much more than epics or movies or festivals. They imbibe the cultural traditions and importantly carry with them many creative symbols, so crucial for imagination. Einstein has said that imagination is more important than knowledge. Our children born in India, are inheritors of Indic civilisation, culture and symbols. They are imbedded in our languages. If they cannot access them well, they are to that extent handicapped. This deficiency may not show up now but later when India has to learn to be in lead in many things in the world where we are now currently laggards or followers (of others).

How much cultural background works on new discoveries and how in the past South Asia was leader of world knowledge, are well explored in a book by Susanta Goonatilake (Towards a Global Science, Mining Civilisational knowledge, Vistaar Publications, New Delhi).

It should be noted here that our children pick up English only in a narrow context of Science or Business or modern light reading. Symbolisms in Shakespeare etc cannot mean much to them except those Indians who have specially mastered them. I find it difficult to relate to Milton or Tennyson. Oftentimes persons who are also well versed in Indian literature, as were KGS, TNR etc. may appreciate the Western Symbolisms better.

Another important task for our Translator-scholars would be not only to capture the modern knowledge bases into Indian languages on a continual basis but also bring out Indian knowledge bases appearing in Indian languages into other world languages. It is not enough to translate only the Indian classics of the hoary past into English, French, Chinese etc. It is in that context I would like to applaud KGS for translating Tamil novels and stories into English. They should go to a website. In addition, Indian languages ought to cross fertilise each other from one language ideally to all other, at least some of them.

Later when there are many such translations to and fro, science will also catch up : many languages can have computer aided translations. That will broaden the base of those who can enjoy world knowledge. (I hate the word ‘consumer’ for this though it is the ‘business’ of translation which will catch up to find ‘consumers’.)

CONCLUDING REMARKS

On the whole, there are great challenging tasks before such multi-language translators. But the beginning should be now itself. All of you present here, please commit yourselves to begin the process. Keep the lamps alive.

Soon will come a seamless connection of Arts, Science and Business without diluting the super-specialities of today and many more hundreds which will come tomorrow.

Translator plays a key role in this process within countries and for global connections. They can connect literature with hard core science or business strategies and innovations.

In turn, the exchanges of literature from many languages even when one is anchored in his/her own language with its cultural moorings, will enrich the processes of creativity and imagination in the human mind and also open up multiple new avenues of imagination and creativity; old and new and those yet to come.

Let me end the talk with a quote from KGS book Tightrope Walking – Section IV Prose Petals, a translation of Ilakkiap Padague by Triloka Sitaram. Page 237.

Literature is a strategy by which we reduce the physical world to a dream and realise feelings and thoughts into a lasting world…….

Every moment of our lives should be as fresh and blooming as if we are just now awakening from a refreshing sleep. Only when the actions of all our yesterdays are powerless to touch us, and only when the worries of unborn tomorrow do not hold any terrors for us today, we can pridefully declare that we have lived……………..

Literature is the power that enables us to live in a wide wakefulness every moment of our existence, though the events that take place momentarily, disappear into the past even as they occur…………

The realization that the world of sensations and feelings alone is the only Reality and that the outer world of forms and things a mere shadow is possible to those who are ready to voyage forth in the literary life – boat across the sea of life.

What is told above is true of Science and many other disciplines which delve deep into human consciousness. There will be many light boats like a star studded sky.

Let me end with a prayer to the Almighty for providing many more years of productive, creative and happy life to Prof KGS in the true tradition of Vedas

Pasَyema Sَaradah Sَatam
Jeevema Sَaradah Sَatam
Budhyema Sَaradah Sَatam
Rohema Sَaradah Sَatam
Pooshema Sَaradah Sَatam
Bhavema Sَaradah Sَatam
Bhoyema Sَaradah Sَatam
Bhooyaseeh Sَaradah Sَataat