Jaipur, India – Last month when I joined a discussion on sustainable technologies by Gideon Behar, Israel’s special envoy for Climate Change and Sustainability, I wondered how a self-proclaimed start-up nation is working in niche segment of climate efficient options to boost its economy and convince the world about competence to meet global needs. Our virtual life overloaded with information sharing and idea selling is keeping new-normal in mind and eye on possibilities.
Special roads for electric vehicles for automatic charging, plant-based proteins, vegan eggs, cultured meat through cells without animal harvesting, lab produced milk with nutrients of cow milk and whole range of fascinating innovations, this tiny nation is building dialogue around technology, impacts of digital diplomacy and hand-shaking with Arab world for entry into potential global markets.
While India is showing its prowess through policy reforms and re-frames, each of which is noticeable enough as breaking away from conventional is always faced with apprehensions than hopes. New Education policy in India is facing its first colossal challenge of stepping out virtually amid Covid chaos when schools and college campus are lifeless with missing millennia in class rooms, labs and play grounds, alongside investment in tinkering labs and innovation hubs holding the seed for deep science.
One side of the truth is about craving in rural India to compete with urban conceit and co-exist with digital power taking all advantage of the same in many ways. Undeterred by all hurdles, revolutionary policy positions are finding their passage through parliament but are resisted through people’s voices outside. It’s not always about numbers there, but about arguments, negotiations and statistics which can only bear the torrent of bold steps to keep us in good stead globally by making us stronger internally.
When farm bills in India are keeping the winter warmer every way, on the anvil is fifth STIP (Science, Technology and Innovations Policy) with more budget and academic leadership promising firm foothold with research-industry interface. Those who have invested their hard work in laboratories and creative zones are sure to re-vitalize the globe with whole range of experiments, not ignoring the intuitive brain, referred as sacred gift by Einstein as against logical one which he identified as our humble servant.
Our policy makers have a tough task ahead to reconstruct and re-design social and economic frames befitting all segments of society for equal opportunities and benefit sharing which might sometime go beyond logic also. It needn’t be a strategic fit, rather be validated and tested as world can’t afford more disruptions than already on our plate. Though, none can guarantee what may be coming our way unwarranted through bio-weaponry, war-fare or climatic crisis, ridiculing probability of any among these will be at our own peril.
We definitely want business not as usual and here, visionary politicians and sustainable technologies are our big hope for a connected, diverse and peaceful world. Calculated risks are certainly better than mindless moves and imaginary projections. This is very crucial time when loud-mouth politicians must be given strong worded caution to either learn to speak language of science or better stay in silos and silence as every scientific discovery or advancement doesn’t necessarily have roots in our ancient texts and mythologies.
As US has gotten rid of Trump, India also need to cut the stubbles of unsubstantiated claims, jibes and fake forwards, as these have as much potential to ruin the dream of a nation aspiring to be a ‘Vishva Guru’ (world leader) in all seriousness. Science Social Responsibility is also an idea, new Science policy is floating to remain seeded in the fabric of society and ethics. India Science Channel, an OTT platform launched by government is an effort to ignite our ideas and popularize science in simple and direct way.
India’s policy think tank Niti Ayog is expressing that Indian economy is on recovery mode and projected to become third-largest by 2047. With uncertain US economy and China growing by 4.5% India has already attained 3rd position globally with more than 15,000 science-technology start-ups out of which a 100 targeted at the Covid-challenge. We certainly are making a big shift toward knowledge economy ranking third in scientific papers publications and problem-solving approach ab-initio.
More money and tools in research and development will ensure quantum leap which is already promised with steps like 8000 crore Indian rupee (around 1.2 billion USD) funding for Quantum technology, our un-discovered treasure trove. Collaborations is also a definite way to expand markets for indigenously developed technologies and this is where the agriculture sector demands much attention. Indian agriculture is largest of all sectors employing 55% of work force but contributing to 16% in GDP, the efficiency will only come with technology and shared knowledge.
Australian and Indian researchers are working together to advance Covid-19 studies with four million dollars investment by Morrison government. Karen Andrews, Minister of Industry, Science and Technology briefs about Australian-India strategic fund, which is largest fund dedicated to bilateral science collaborations through which both countries have also committed to developing risk management systems to protect farmers from disasters associated with climate change touching upon the issues of food-drying using renewable energy and reducing pollution in food processing sector.
India is in full gear shifting to electric vehicles by 2030, subsidizing solar for farmers and national and sub-national climate action plans ready guiding all policies for clean energy and efficient technology. As per UN report, India’s per capita global emission is 60% lower than global average and historically its contribution to carbon emission is 3% while US has 25%, EU 22%, China 13% share. China is releasing 30% greenhouse gases, US 13.5% and EU 8.7% still. Environment Minister of India Prakash Javdekar has set eight targets for 2021-30 to reduce emissions intensity and has cut down CO2 emissions by 164 million kg already. One and half degree rise in temperature is the limit set for our survival for which full degree efforts are bare necessity.