By K Syama Prasad, Virat Majboor
The ‘Technology Vision Document 2035’ unveiled by the Prime Minister while iugurating the 103rd Indian Science Congress last month, foresees the Indians of 2035, and technologies required for fulfilling their needs. It is not a visualization of technologies that will be available in 2035, but a vision of where our country and its citizens should be in 2035 and how technology should bring this vision to fruition.
The document is dedicated to late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, the former President of India, and prepared by Technology Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council, (TIFAC). “India will be the country of young for the next few decades. It is imperative that every youth blossoms to his/her full potential and that the potential is fully tapped for the benefit of the tion. This in turn requires that needs of our children and youth for nutrition, health, knowledge, skill, connectivity and identity are met,” the PM said.
The 12 identified sectors of the Vision document are: Education, Medical Sciences & Healthcare, Food and Agriculture, Water, Energy, Environment, Habitat, Transportation, Infrastructure, Manufacturing, Materials, Information and Communication Technology
The Vision documents identifies 12 prerogatives- (six for meeting individual needs and six for the collective needs) that should be available to each and every Indian. These are:
Clean air and potable water
Food and nutritiol security
Universal healthcare and public hygiene
Quality education, livelihood and creative opportunities
Safe and speedy mobility
Public safety and tiol security
Cultural diversity and vibrancy
Transparent and effective governce
Disaster and climate resilience
Eco-friendly conservation of tural resources
Assurance of these prerogatives, according to the Vision document, is the core of technology vision for India. For assuring these prerogatives, technologies are mapped as: 1) those readily deployable, 2) those that needs to be moved from Lab to Field, 3) those that require targeted Research and 4) those that are still in Imagition. The last of these category of technologies could come about as a result of curiosity driven or paradigm- shattering ‘Blue-sky’ Research like on Internet of Things, Wearable Technology, Synthetic Biology, Brain computer Interface, Bio-printing and regenerative medicine. Precision agriculture and robotic farming, vertical farming, interactive foods, autonomous vehicles, Bioluminescence, 3D printing of buildings, earthquake prediction, weather modification technologies, green mining etc are some other such technologies expected that would go a long way in sustaibly fulfilling the needs of the present and future generations of mankind.
The vision document also makes a mention of three critical prerequisites or Transversal Technologies i.e., materials, manufacturing and information and communication technology to provide the foundation upon which all other technologies would be constructed.
The document also talks of required infrastructure which it says primarily include relevant knowledge institutions besides ports, highways, airports, railways, cold chains, etc. Among the essential prerequisites, it also mentions fundamental research in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology and other allied sciences.
The document dwells upon the grand challenges in the field of technologies which, it says, we should resolve as a tion. The challenges are:
·Guaranteeing nutritiol security and elimiting female and child aemia
·Ensuring quantity and quality of water in all rivers and aquatic bodies
·Providing learner centric, language neutral and holistic education to all
·Developing commercially viable decentralized and distributed energy for all
·Making India non-fossil fuel based
·Securing critical resources commensurate with the size of our country
·Ensuring universal eco-friendly waste magement
·Taking the railway to Leh and Tawang
·Understanding tiol climate patterns and adapting to them
·Ensuring location independent electoral and fincial empowerment
There has also been a raging debate on the social impact of technology and the choice between capital intensive and manpower intensive. Capital intensive technology, especially in India with abundant human resources, has been projected as detrimental to the use of manpower as it is argued that it would reduce jobs. The Vision Document seeks to bust this myth by arguing in favor of judicious policy and conscious planning in employing technology to impart new skills to manpower and fulfill needs of the society. It visualizes technology as a great leveler rather than as an enhancer of social stratification.
In order to overcome these challenges, the Vision Document 2035 envisages a ratiol assessment of the capabilities and constraints of the Indian technological landscape. It categorizes technologies into a six-fold classification from an Indian perspective which is as follows:
·Technology Leadership – niche technologies in which we have core competencies, skilled manpower, infrastructure and a traditiol knowledge base eg., Nuclear Energy, Space Science.
·Technology Independence – strategic technologies that we would have to develop on our own as they may not be obtaible from elsewhere eg., Defence sector.
·Technology Innovation – linking disparate technologies together or making a breakthrough in one technology and applying it to another eg., solar cells patterned on chlorophyll based synthetic pathway are a potent future source of renewable energy.
·Technology Adoption – obtain technologies from elsewhere, modify them according to local needs and reduce dependence on other sources eg., foreign collaboration in the sectors of rainwater harvesting, agri-biotech, desalition, energy efficient buildings.
·Technology Constraints – areas where technology is threatening and problematic i.e. having a negative social or environmental impact because of serious legal and ethical issues eg., Genetically Modified(GM) Crops.
The Vision Document, in a separate section, gives a ‘Call to Action’ to all the key stakeholders. It brings to notice that for long term sustaibility of India’s technological prowess, it is important that
·Technical Education Institutions engage in advanced research on a large scale leading to path-breaking innovations.
·Government enhances its fincial support from the current 1% to the long-envisaged 2% of the GDP.
·The number of full-time equivalent Scientists in the core research sector should increase.
·Private Sector Participation and Investment in evolving technologies that is readily deployable and is translatable from lab to field thereby increasing efficiency in terms of technology and economic returns.
·Academia-Intelligentsia-Industry connect is established via idea exchange, innovative curricula design, based on the needs of the industry, industry-sponsored student internships and research fellowships inter alia.
·Creation of an Research Ecosystem so as to achieve the translation of research to technology product/process by integrating students, researchers and entrepreneurs.
The document also identifies three key activities as a part of the ‘Call to Action’, mely knowledge creation, ecosystem design for innovation and development, and technology deployment with launching certain tiol missions involving specific targets, definite timelines requiring only a few carefully defined identified players.
(K Syama Prasad is Addl. Director General, PIB, New Delhi and Virat Majboor is Asst. Director, PIB, New Delhi)