Science Education, Human Resources
and Public Attitude towards Science
COUNTRIES WORLDWIDE MONITOR THE
health of their scientific and
technological activities through ‘national
science reports’. These country reports
are an important component in
reconstructing national S&T priorities
and have played a large part in funding
and monitoring S&T programmes in these
countries. Unfortunately, no systematic
and comprehensive empirical assessment
of S&T efforts is available in the Indian context, resulting in a relatively chaotic and contradictory picture of the national efforts in S&T. An important factor contributing to such
images of S&T efforts in the country is the paucity of
reliable data in an accessible and timely manner.
Further, studies of the impact of Indian science on
society and national development are often based on sporadic, outdated, and scattered Indian reports. A few studies, with
specific purposes, have been undertaken at different points
of time to evaluate the performance of institutions based
on various S&T statistics, for example, in the context of
restructuring scientific institutions, creating centralised facilities, cost cutting, and improving productivity. At the national level, no efforts have been made on a single plat-
form to evaluate the overall scientific and technological
achievements of the multi-layered S&T system in India. Often international data sources are consulted.
It was in this context and to address the empirical gaps
that the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) commissioned a study to the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) to bring out the first India Science Report (ISR). The ISR is an ambitious project that is intended not as an event but as a process, of which this first report is the beginning. Given the potentially vast canvas of issues that could be
addressed by the first ISR, and limited time and resources,
it was only inevitable that prioritisation of issues and top- ics would be needed. Thus, to begin with, it was decided to
concentrate on the three major issues, namely, status of
science and engineering education, utilisation pattern of
human resource and “public” attitude towards S&T through an altogether new approach i.e., primary survey based
approach never before attempted in the country.
EDUCATION IN SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
The proportion of the population with a 10 th
(high school) and 12 th (higher secondary) degree has
increased significantly, from 8.2% (69.7 million) in 1991
to 23% (246.9 million) in 2004. Those with graduate
degrees and above have risen from 2.4%
(20.5 million) of the population in 1991 to around
4.5% (48.7 million) today.
The proportion of diplomas has risen more than ten times and is currently around 0.4% (3.9 million) of the population.
In 2004, about a fourth of those qualified to the level of graduate and above had a background of science
education. There are 39.2 million graduates in all
(22.3% of whom are from the science stream),
9.3 million postgraduates (19.4% of whom are from the
science stream), and 0.3 million doctorates (one-third
from the science stream).
Occupational pattern of educated stock
Given their share in both the stocks (23.1%) as well as
in enrolment (33.4%), science stream students are
adequately represented in most types of jobs. In the case of ‘professionals, technical and related’ jobs, almost 29% of the total employed are educated in science.
Also, a fourth of all unemployed are those with
Of those not working because they either have no job or
are housewives, those who have studied science are in a
much smaller proportion. As of 2004, of this
population, 13% are illiterate and another 58.3% have
studied only till class 12. Of the...
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