Science & Technology in India Essay Sample

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Countries Worldwide Monitor The health of their scientific and technological activities through ‘national science reports’. These country reports are an important component in reconstructing national S&T priorities and have played a large part in funding and monitoring S&T programmes in these countries. Unfortunately, no systematic and comprehensive empirical assessment of S&T efforts is available in the Indian context, resulting in a relatively chaotic and contradictory picture of the national efforts in S&T. An important factor contributing to such images of S&T efforts in the country is the paucity of reliable data in an accessible and timely manner. Further, studies of the impact of Indian science on society and national development are often based on sporadic, outdated, and scattered Indian reports. A few studies, with specific purposes, have been undertaken at different points of time to evaluate the performance of institutions based on various S&T statistics, for example, in the context of restructuring scientific institutions, creating centralised facilities, cost cutting, and improving productivity.

At the national level, no efforts have been made on a single plat- form to evaluate the overall scientific and technological achievements of the multi-layered S&T system in India. Often international data sources are consulted. It was in this context and to address the empirical gaps that the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) commissioned a study to the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to bring out the first India Science Report (ISR). The ISR is an ambitious project that is intended not as an event but as a process, of which this first report is the beginning. Given the potentially vast canvas of issues that could be addressed by the first ISR, and limited time and resources, it was only inevitable that prioritisation of issues and top- ics would be needed. Thus, to begin with, it was decided to concentrate on the three major issues, namely, status of science and engineering education, utilisation pattern of human resource and “public” attitude towards S&T through an altogether new approach i.e., primary survey based approach never before attempted in the country. MAJOR FINDINGS EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING Educated stock 

The proportion of the population with a 10 th (high school) and 12 th (higher secondary) degree has increased significantly, from 8.2% (69.7 million) in 1991 to 23% (246.9 million) in 2004. Those with graduate degrees and above have risen from 2.4% (20.5 million) of the population in 1991 to around 4.5% (48.7 million) today.  The proportion of diplomas has risen more than ten times and is currently around 0.4% (3.9 million) of the population.  In 2004, about a fourth of those qualified to the level of graduate and above had a background of science education. There are 39.2 million graduates in all (22.3% of whom are from the science stream), 9.3 million postgraduates (19.4% of whom are from the science stream), and 0.3 million doctorates (one-third from the science stream). Occupational pattern of educated stock  Given their share in both the stocks (23.1%) as well as in enrolment (33.4%), science stream students are adequately represented in most types of jobs. In the case of ‘professionals, technical and related’ jobs, almost 29% of the total employed are educated in science. Also, a fourth of all unemployed are those with science education. 

Of those not working because they either have no job or are housewives, those who have studied science are in a much smaller proportion. As of 2004, of this population, 13% are illiterate and another 58.3% have studied only till class 12. Of the remainder, 8.4% have studied science, as compared to 20.4% who have studied non-science subjects.  Of the graduates who are unemployed, 22.3% have studied science. The share of postgraduates with science background in the total unemployed postgraduates is significantly higher (62.8%). Enrolment  Annual enrolments at the graduate-plus level have risen from 6.6 million in 1995–96 to 9.84 million in 2004, including 0.34 million in diploma courses, and the proportion of those studying science within these has risen from 28.8% in 1995–96 to 34.6% in 2004.  The proportion of those doing engineering has almost doubled, from 6.0% of the population studying at the graduate-plus level in 1995–96 to 11.2% in 2003–04. Indeed, engineering education shows the highest growth, from 8.2% per annum in 1995–2000 to 21.9% in 2000–04. Expenditure on education  While both the central government and the state governments spend around four per cent of GDP on education each year, there has been a sharp hike in private spending on education.

Between 35% and 40% of government expenditure gets spent on elementary education, another fourth on secondary education while just a tenth goes to university and higher education.  Though private spending is higher in the richer states, where government spending also tends to be high, private spending as a proportion of the total spending on education in the state tends to be higher in poorer areas. For instance, in Punjab, the government spent Rs 845 per person in 2000–01 and the state’s citizens reciprocated by spending 30% less. In Bihar, where the government spent only Rs 44 per person in 2000–01, the average citizen spent Rs 168 in 2001–02 on education. Interestingly, it is states like West Bengal and Punjab, not Kerala, which emerge as states with the highest per capita expenditure on education. Regional variations  Uttar Pradesh accounts for the country’s largest number of graduates and above — around 15.2% followed by Maharashtra (13.7%) and Andhra Pradesh (8.1%). 

At an all India level, six per cent of the country’s population (above the age of 10) has at least a graduate degree. Delhi has the best-qualified population, and 16% of all Delhiites have at least a graduate degree.  Of the 12.1 million science graduates and diploma holders in the country, 14% are to be found in Andhra Pradesh. Tamil Nadu is next with 12%, Maharashtra third with 11%, Uttar Pradesh fourth with 10% and Karnataka gets into the list next with 7.5%. Students’ attitude towards science education  Mathematics remains the most preferred subject, with a third of students in classes six to eight rating it as number one, and over 21% still feeling the same way in classes 11 and 12.  At the class six to eight level, 22% of the students said they would like to study pure science at higher levels of education. Yet, when it came to students in class 11 and 12, just 13.4% wanted to study pure science at the graduate/postgraduate level.  The interest in all types of science education does not decline much — 60% of the students at the class six to eight level said they wanted to pursue some science education (pure science, engineering or medicine) at a higher level as compared to 57% students in classes 11 and 12.

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