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July 3, 1997


Cabinet panel to discuss tech policy statement

The newly constituted Scientific Advisory Committee of the Union Cabinet is meeting tomorrow and one of the key issues slated to be discussed is the re-worked Technology Policy Statement of 1993.

The SAC-C has 35 members including 19 secretaries of various government departments and Professor C N R Rao as its chairman. Its mandate is advising the government on implementation of the science and technology policy.

In addition, it would recommend measures to improve the country's technological self-reliance, application of science and technology and linkages among various institutes and the government.

The TPS would be further debated along with the suggestions made by the SAC-C before a final shape is given, Professor V S Ramamurthy, secretary to the Union Department of Science and Technology, told members of the Indian Science Writers' Association.

Referring to the Technology Development Board, Ramamurthy said over 100 proposals from industry and laboratories have been received with funding requirements projected at over Rs 8 billion. The TDB has been given funds to the tune of Rs 700 million for the current fiscal (Rs 300 million last year) by the government.

"We are not in any undue hurry to fund the project. At the moment our approach is to take the minimum risk and extend financial support to sure-shot ventures which have good commercial prospects," Ramamurthy, who is also the chairperson of the TDB, said.

The TDB has been promised Rs 1 billion by the finance minister next year. There is no dearth of proposals, he said.

Discounting the prospects of the Indian industry going in for largescale foreign technology transfers in the present liberalised environment, he said industries are approaching the DST, not for money but to get knowledge consultants who could be associated with them in the venture.

Professor Ramamurthy said the most discouraging thing happening in Indian science is the continuing decline in inputs, both on the manpower and finance fronts. "Science education has to be made more attractive or else a decade from now things would become really bad," he claimed.

Listing some of the measures proposed by the DST, the secretary mentioned revival of the National Science Talent scholarship scheme and extension of facilities to researchers for travel abroad for presentation of their work.

The recently launched Swarnajayanthi Fellowships to outstanding young scientists would be given beginning this year.

A Rs 500 million fund has been created and the scheme would be operated by the Department of Education. The DST has provided several inputs to make the scheme more attractive, Ramamurthy added.

- Compiled from the Indian media

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