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Science, Technology and Society

By arjungoleria Feb 11, 2012 1666 Words
Science, Technology and Society

Science, technology and society (STS) is the study of how social, political, and cultural values affect scientific research and technological innovation, and how these, in turn, affect society, politics and culture. STS scholars are interested in a variety of problems including the relationships between scientific and technological innovations and society, and the directions and risks of science and technology. Science and technology continue to shape our society in profound ways. Entering the 21st century, our society is in need of well-educated individuals with a command of scientific and technical concepts. The sciences and engineering further require cultural, ethical, legal, and historical frameworks to critically assess the appropriate and far-sighted application of these new concepts and cutting-edge technologies. The Science, Technology, and Society Program (STS) provides an interdisciplinary approach to the social, historical, ethical, philosophical, legal, and policy implications of scientific research, engineering, health, and medicine. Due to their engagement with multiple sides of current scientific and technical issues, STS scholars are uniquely positioned to take a leading role in shaping society. For the University, STS provides a means of bridging academic disciplines and forging new initiatives across disciplinary boundaries. For our students, STS provides an opportunity to bridge disciplinary interests, expand research possibilities, and learn the analytical skills needed to be competitive in an increasingly globalizing market for the sciences and technology. The vital role of science in modern life is not overstated in view of today's world. Science and technology have profoundly influenced the course of human civilization. Science has provided us remarkable insights into the world we live in. The scientific revolutions of the 20th century have led to many technologies, which promise to herald wholly new eras in many fields, As we stand today at the beginning of a new century, we have to ensure fullest use of these developments for the well being of our people. Science and technology have been an integral part of Indian civilization and culture over the past several millennia. Few are aware that India was the fountainhead of important foundational scientific developments and approaches. These cover many great scientific discoveries and technological achievements in Mathematics, Astronomy, Architecture, Chemistry, Metallurgy, Medicine, Natural Philosophy and other areas. A great deal of this traveled outwards from India. Equally, India also assimilated scientific ideas and techniques from elsewhere, with open-mindedness and a rational attitude, characteristic of a scientific ethos. India's traditions have been founded on the principles of universal harmony, respect for all creations and an integrated holistic approach. This background is likely to provide valuable insights for future scientific advances. During the century prior to independence, there was an awakening of modem science in India through the efforts of a number of outstanding scientists. They were responsible for great scientific advances of the highest international caliber.

Improvements in techniques evolved as a result of scientific research bring about great increases in production in the different sectors of the economy. National resources are augmented by the substitution of cheap and abundant materials for those in scarce supplies and by finding uses for materials, which have remained un-utilized, prior to independence; very little attention was given to the problem of scientific and industrial research in India. A number of universities and institutes carried out research, mostly on fundamental aspects of science. Certain industries also had their own research organizations. However, industry depended, by and large, on foreign techniques and did not develop research programs of its own.

A large number of products that had been imported into the country had to be manufactured to meet both civilian and military needs. Indian substitutes had to be found for imported materials and processes had to be developed which would use these materials in place of imported ones. In these circumstances, the Government of India constituted dies Board of Scientific and Industrial Research in 1940. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research was formed in 1942. Since independence there has been a greater emphasis on the provision of additional facilities for the promotion of scientific and industrial research. The most significant development in this sphere has been the establishment of a chain of national laboratories and research institutes in different parts of the country. The establishment of national laboratories and research institutes has a special importance in a country like India where medium and small-scale producers contribute a considerable proportion of industrial production. These industries cannot afford to have research facilities of their own, as the larger producers can. Besides these laboratories and research institutes, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research has made contributions towards the promotion of fundamental and applied research at a number of institutions and universities.

Science is becoming increasingly inter-and multi-disciplinary, and calls for multi-institutional and, in several cases, multi-country participation. Major experimental facilities, even in several areas of basic research, require very large amount of materials, human and intellectual resources. Science and technology have become so closely intertwined, and so reinforce each other that, to be effective, any policy needs to view them together. The continuing revolutions in die field of information and communication technologies have had profound impact on the manner and speed with which scientific information becomes available, and scientific interactions take place.

Science and technology have had unprecedented impact on economic growth and social development. Knowledge has become a source of economic might and power. This has led to increased restrictions on sharing of knowledge, to new norms of intellectual property rights, and to global trade and technology control regimes. Scientific and technological developments today also have deep ethical, legal and social implications. There are deep concerns in society about these. The ongoing globalization and the intensely competitive environment have a significant impact on the production and service sectors.

Because of all this, our science and technology system has to be infused with new vitality if it is to play a decisive and beneficial role hi advancing the well being of all sections of our society. The nation continues to be firm in its resolve to support science and technology in all its facets. It recognizes its central role in raising the quality of life of the people of the country, particularly of the disadvantaged sections of society, in creating wealth for all, in making India globally competitive, in utilizing natural resources in a sustainable manner, in protecting die environment, and ensuring national security. India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world; 162 universities award 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research runs 40 research laboratories that have made some significant achievements.

In the field of missile launch technology, India is among the five top nations of the world. Science and Technology, however, is used as an effective instrument of growth and change. It is being brought into the mainstream of economic planning in the sectors of agriculture, industry and services. The country's resources are used to derive the maximum output for the benefit of society and improvement in the quality of life. About 85 per cent of the funds for science and technology come directly or indirectly from the Government.

As part of its programme for peaceful uses of atomic energy, India has also embarked on a program of nuclear power generation. Currently eight nuclear stations are producing 8 billion kilowatts of electricity. Four more nuclear power stations have been planned. The new nuclear reactors have been completely designed in India. The peaceful nuclear programme also includes producing radioisotopes for use in agriculture, medicine, industry and research.

India's progress in space technology has attracted worldwide attention and demand, with leasing agreements for marketing of IRS data and supply of space hardware and services. India also believes in co-operation in space with agencies all over the world. A high-level UN team selected India for setting up a UN Centre for Space Science and Technology Education. India is on the threshold of achieving self-reliance in the launch capability.

Recently, the Biotechnology Consortium India Limited was set up. It will play the role of catalyst in bridging the gap between Research and Development, Industrial and Financial Institutions. Some of the new initiatives taken include developing techniques for gene mapping, conservation of biodiversity and bio-indicators' research, special biotechnology programs for the benefit of die scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and activities in the area of plantation oops. The areas, which have been receiving attention, are cattle herd improvement through embryo transfer technology, in vitro propagation of disease resistant plant varieties for obtaining higher yields, and development of vaccines for various diseases.

Thus, we see that India has made unprecedented development in the field of scientific research and technology during the post-independence period and this just seems to be the beginning of a road with endless possibilities. In fact during post independence period and through the vision of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru the then Prime Minister, Science and Technology were developed in a conscious way as a major force for accelerating social and economic change. Nehru clearly expressed his views in his 'Discovery of India’: "It was science alone that could solve the problems of hunger and poverty, of insanitation and illiteracy, of superstition and doddering custom and tradition, of vast resources running to waste, of a rich country inhabited by starving people," Programme of 'Green Revolution' has made it true. Now, in the fields of space research, atomic energy, biotechnology and agriculture, India has achieved a lot. Continuous emergence of new areas and micro areas are gradually gaining the importance and specialized research areas like Superconductivity, Laser, Supercomputers, Robots and Robotics, Information Technology, Optic fibers etc. have resulted in a vast expansion in the areas/fields of SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY activities. All we need is to plan and organize in a way so as to be able to harness our intelligentsia in the right direction and provide it with the right opportunities.

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