Social Scientist. v 10, no. 105 (Feb 1982) p. 56.

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Technology Policy and Self-Reliance

INDIA ranked among the first 15 countries in industrial development even at the time of independence. But, industrial development in India was so lopsided that it was hardly more than a mere appendage of the metropolitan economy of Great Britain. British capital was dominant in the modern sectors of industry and commerce. Apart from other supplies, almost the entire mill and machinery had to be imported from England. Since, under the earlier plans, the rate of domestic saving was low, industrial development depended a great deal on foreign finance and imported technology and capital goods. Multinational corporations were also allowed to invest directly or collaborate with Indian partners. Over the plans, there has been a significant increase in the rate of domestic saving. Foreign exchange reserves have also improved over the 1970s. But, these have not really freed India from its dependence on foreign capital though the sources of funding have been diversified.

In the same way, the expanded industrial base in India has not reduced its technological gap and dependence. A wide variety of sophisticated plant and machinery has been installed for hydro and thermal power plants, steel, fertilizers, petrochemicals, heavy engineering, mechanical, electrical and electronic equipment, aeronautics, and so on, over the last 30 years. The progress in nuclear energy and space research is also quite impressive. Nevertheless, other developing countries seem to march ahead of India in industrial development. The degree of assimilation, adaptation and development has been far from satisfactory. Consequently, the technological gap between India and more advanced countries seems to be widening and the process of sustained modernization involves not only import of new technology but also updated versions of old ones.

Technological progress in India has been somewhat tardy and lopsided even though India is among the top 10 countries in terms of scientific and technical manpower, despite the serious brain drain. About three dozen national laboratories in science and technology have also been set up by the government under the earlier plans, apart from specialized agencies for defence, atomic energy and space research. They account for about 90 per cent of the top scientists and engineers.

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