As India and the world reorient in the present context of the COVID-19 crisis, a landmark policy initiative, Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy 2020 (STIP 2020) has been initiated at this crucial juncture. It is one of the most significant events amidst many important changes in the past decade that have necessitated the formulation of a new outlook and strategy for Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI). Given the recent advancements in the global and national STI landscape, STIP 2020 aims to reorient STI efforts in terms of priorities, sectoral focus, and strategies. It aims to revisit and re-energize the way research is conducted; technologies developed and deployed with the goals of larger socio-economic progress and welfare.
In the last few months, a preparatory framework has been developed for the formulation of STIP 2020. This is the 5th national science, technology, and innovation policy of/for India that follows. Figure 1 shows a brief timeline of the previous policies. The new policy, STIP 2020 revolves around the core principles of being decentralized, evidence-informed, bottom-up, experts-driven, and inclusive. Also, it aims to bring-in the concept of ‘dynamic policy’ with a robust policy governance mechanism incorporating features such as periodic review, policy evaluation, feedback, and adaptation, and most importantly, a timely exit strategy for various policy instruments.
STIP 2020 policy formulation framework involves 4 detailed tracks of activities and a coordination mechanism through a centralized secretariat. The STIP 2020 secretariat is coordinated, supported, and guided by the Office of PSA, NITI Aayog and DST. The formulation process, by design, envisioned as a very inclusive and participative model with intense interconnectedness among different tracks of activities. Some background work has been done in all the 4 tracks and an operational ground is prepared to take it further in full swing.
Track-I involves extended public and expert consultation. It aims to capture the aspirations of a larger set of stakeholders and create a repository of public voices that will act as a guiding force for the drafting process. There are six unique activities under this track, designed carefully keeping the limitations (access, reach, digital services, language barriers, and last-mile connectivity) of different stakeholder groups in mind. Track-II involves focused experts-driven thematic group consultations to feed evidence-informed recommendations into the policy drafting process. Twenty-one (21) thematic groups have been constituted for this purpose with 150+ experts drawn from government, academia, industry, civil society organizations and think tanks.
Track-III connects ministries, departments, and States/UTs to this policy process through a designated nodal officer. The ‘State/UT Consultations’ focus on strengthening the regional STI ecosystem and creating efficient means of STI Policy Governance at the state level that can lead to the creation of state STI Policies and action plans in tandem with the national STIP 2020. The ministerial consultation process will take key policy recommendations from different ministries and incorporate them into a form that can lead to the creation of a broader STI policy governance and robust STI data architecture.
Track-IV brings institutional coherence by integrating inputs from all the tracks. This track is the binding force that draws upon the apex-level multi-stakeholder engagement at the national as well as global levels. This track is ex-officio in nature, involving institutional representatives from governments, academia, industry, and civil society organizations. The Track-IV consultations planned with (i) young scientists and technologists, (ii) civil society organizations with special focus on farmers and traditional businesses, (iii) scientific ministries, departments and agencies, (iv) socio-economic ministries and department, (v) state governments, and (vi) global partners.