Science, Technology, Innovation in India and Access, Inclusion and Equity: Discourses, Measurement and Emerging Challenges

Abstract: The role of Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) in economic growth is well accepted. Tracing the debate on the role of science in Indian society in the pre-1947 India, the discourses and narratives on science, technology and society in India are mapped and their impact on policies is discussed. However, in the backdrop of growing inequalities and access to technology the debate on technology and development has assumed greater policy relevance. In this paper, we have used qualitative analysis and quantitative methods to discuss the issues in understanding and evaluating S&T policy in India and measuring access, equity and inclusion (AEI) through indicators. Although AEI as principles can be used for policy analysis and studying the impacts of S&T policies, the need for robust indicators is obvious. But the current indicators of impacts of S&T, or innovation indicators do not capture AEI nor consider them as important values to be measured. In development economics attempts are being made to measure inclusion and exclusion and to study marginalisation or marginality. We have constructed three indices using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) where weights in each index are the variances of successive principal components. The paper suggests that research on AEI should become part of S&T policy process. It is suggested that in major technology initiatives and policy proposals 3 to 5 per cent of the proposed budgets could be allotted to such research. Another suggestion is to develop new methodologies and models, in the context of emerging technologies and S&T related indicators should be linked to socio-economic indicators.

Keywords: Access, Equity, Inclusion, S&T indicators, S&T policy, innovation policy