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Scientific Social Responsibility to create an interface between science and technology: DST

Date: November 16, 2020
Place: Delhi

Science and Technology have been an integral part of Indian civilization and culture over the past several millennia. The previous Science and Technology Policies have also emphasized the utilization of science for the welfare of the people. However, the new India with its vibrant young populace in a country of ambition and inspiration required a renewed emphasis on the integration of S&T with society at both the institutional as well as individual levels. The Department of Science and Technology, Government of India had organized a webinar on the occasion of World Science Day. The World Science Day is celebrated on November 10 and the theme this year was ‘Science for and with Society’. On this occasion, the Department of Science and Technology with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) New Delhi organized the webinar to acknowledge and embrace the essence of the theme keeping in mind the growing significance of science, technology, and innovation in socio-economic, political and cultural spheres as the world is grappling with COVID-19 19 pandemic. Speaking on the occasion, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Professor Ashutosh Sharma highlighted that a policy on Scientific Social Responsibility would be put in place in the next few months to create a new interface between science and society. He noted that connecting science to society can make Science and Technology one of the strongest pillars for peace and development. “Communication of science to society at large is a major challenge. Science needs to reach the masses so that it can be used as a major tool for peace and development”, professor Ashutosh pointed out at the webinar on World Science Day for Peace and Development organized jointly by DST and UNESCO.

The main objective of the Scientific Social Responsibility
The main objective of SSR policy is to harness the voluntary potential that is latent in the country’s scientific community to strengthen science and society linkages to make the S&T ecosystem vibrant. This primarily involves bridging science-society at an accelerated pace towards achieving social goals.
Underlining the importance of equity and diversity in science and technology, Professor Sharma mentioned the ten different programs run by the DST like CURIE (Consolidation of University Research for Innovation & Excellence in Women Universities) and Vigyan Jyoti to create a level-playing field for women to encourage and help them make inroads into the field of science, technology and innovation.

What is the Scientific Social Responsibility (SSR) Policy Directives?

SSR is to be implemented through the following specific strategies:
1. All Central government ministries and State Governments would plan and strategize their SSR under their respective mandates.
2. Every knowledge institution would prepare its implementation plan for achieving its SSR goals.
3. All knowledge workers would be sensitized by their institutions about their ethical responsibility to contribute towards the betterment of society and the achievement of national developmental and environmental goals.
4. Every knowledge worker would be liable for at least 10 person-days of SSR per year. While the knowledge worker would be given wide latitude in choosing the SSR activity, it should necessarily pertain to the transmission of scientific knowledge to society.
5. There should be an SSR monitoring system in each institution to assess institutional projects and individual activities. Each knowledge institution would publish an annual SSR report.
6. Appropriate indicators for monitoring of SSR activities about output/outcomes for both at the institution and individual level need to be developed. The impact of SSR activities needs to be measured in terms of short frames.
7. Individual and institutional SSR necessary budgetary support.
8. Individual SSR activities should be given knowledge workers, such as the performance of the output of university and college teachers.
9. SSR activities and projects of a knowledge institution would not be outsourced or sub-contracted.

The policy envisages strengthening science-society linkages organically by building synergy among all the stakeholders to usher in a cultural change in the conduct of science for the benefit of society at large in the country. Eric Falt, Director, UNESCO, New Delhi, speaking on occasion said, “Science has been widely discussed in 2020 due to COVID-19. Science, technology, and innovation have become the key to vaccines, monitoring health, and even online classes. Equal access to knowledge is fundamental for peace and development, and it is important to help science, technology, and innovation reach to masses”. Other than that, Dr. Sanjay Mishra, Head - KIRAN Division, DST elaborated about DST’s KIRAN program, which helps to empower women in science. He said, “Science plays a huge role in the growth and development of society. However, women’s presence in the field of science, technology, and innovation is not optimal, and our department is running various programs for empowering women scientists. KIRAN is one among them. We hope these women-centric programs would help increase the number of women in science, technology, and innovation”. All India Council for Robotics and Automation (AICRA) is the apex institution in the field of Robotics, Automation and AI will leapfrog the industry in the direction of making India a preferred destination for all Science and Technology companies and institutions. AICRA is focused on building the architecture integral to the development of the automation sector through policy advocacy, and help in setting up the strategic direction for the sector to unleash its potential and dominate newer frontiers.

Source: Press Information Bureau and Department of Science and Technology, GoI