On the ^Science and Technology Plan^
IN continuation of the note by M P Paramcswaran (Social Scientist, Number 17, December 1973) it is interesting to have a further look at the National Committee on Science and Technology document. NCST has raised, and correctly too, the following questions:
Are we pursuing the right scientific goals? Are we undertaking enough Research and Development? Are we getting the value for the money we spend on Science and Technology research? Is the balance between so-called 'basic' and ^applied5 research about right? Are we training the right kind of scientists and technologists? Can we plan science? (Italics added).
It then opines that scientific and technological activity must be planned and directed towards the fulfilment of national goals so as to make an impact on the life in our country. If this should be the case undoubtedly the technological efforts should be dovetailed into the economic programmes of the Government. Science should be a social activity and the scientist and the technologist should be brought into contact with the economist and the politician, that is, if science has to have its impact on society, the society should decide the appropriateness of scientific efforts. The two should develop lively interaction.
Now the question arises. What are the social obligations of the Government? "Unless and until these are clearly spelt out, how can science be tamed? At the outset itself NCST admits:
We cannot (also) destroy existing social relationships at such a rate as to leave a multitude of rudderless beings in an unfamiliar sea.
Of course who the "rudderless beings'5 are is anybody's guess. It simultaneously exhorts scientists to comprehend the role of S and T as the chief agents of contemporary social transformation. Exhorting noble ideals in generalised terms, without coming to brass-tacks probably describes the very character of the body, the NCST is today.
The committee takes pains to repeat endlessly that we are spending hardly 0.2 per cent of our Gross National Product on R and D whereas