Separate Ministries for all Science and Tech Departments

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Source: This post “Separate Ministries for all Science and Tech Departments” is created based on the article Singular focus Science is now too vast to be administered by one Minister, published in The Hindu on 14th June 2024.

UPSC Syllabus Topic: GS Paper 2 – Governance – Government policies for various sectors

Context: Each department related to science and tech field needs its own cabinet minister. Keeping them, under a single ministry would result in inefficiency.

Minister of State, Jitendra Singh, has taken oath in the 18th Lok Sabha. His portfolios include the Departments of Space (DoS) and Atomic Energy (DAE), the Ministries of Earth Sciences (MoES), Science and Technology (MST), and Personnel, Public Grievances, and Pensions.

Each of these department is facing its own set of challenges.

What are the challenges faced by different S&T departments?

Department of Space (DoS):

  • Entry of private sector players into the national space program,
  • Development of human spaceflight missions,
  • New launch vehicles.

Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES):

  • Engaging in seabed mineral resource exploration and
  • Climate adaptation and mitigation efforts

Ministry of Science and Technology (MST): MST requires to tackle following challenges:

  • Overseeing research in artificial intelligence, quantum computing,
  • Multi-omics approaches in agriculture and medicine,
  • Advanced energy storage solutions.

Department of Atomic Energy (DAE):

  • Rapid advancement of nuclear power, including starting phase two of the reactor program
  • Commissioning new facilities annually

Research and Development

  • Delays in Fellowship and Grant Disbursals for young researchers hinder their progress and morale.
  • Interdisciplinary Research Facilities are localized, which impedes collaboration and the advancement of interdisciplinary research.
  • Inadequate protection of intellectual property rights hampers innovation.
  • Translational Research is Limited to a few sectors.
  • Declining R&D Expenditure since 2008-09.

What should be done?

Separate ministries: To address the technical and managerial divergence, there is a need for a separate Minister, ideally of Cabinet rank, for each major nodal research body.

Capacity Building: Before increasing funding, it is crucial to build capacity to absorb and utilize these funds productively.

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