Science and technology for inclusive development

Siddarth Dubey
Innovation driven growth is no longer the prerogative of high income countries alone, developing countries like India have achieved significant economic  growth through the creation and deployment of Science and Technology (S&T) capacity. S&T will need to be made more participatory and inclusive so that there is public engagement in the scientific endeavour  from the full spectrum of social actors, including women, young people and indigenous communities. Lives saved and nourished will not be able to flourish in the absence of inclusive and sustained development  of S&T that creates jobs, builds skills and reduces poverty.
Any effective partnership supporting inclusive development therefore needs to frame development for all as the overall goal. This will need a rebalance of priorities and concerns  to achieve a paradigm shift where the relevance of cross-cutting issues, such as Science, technology and innovation, is not contestable. Such a new deal will need fresh thinking, supported by effective policies and instruments in order to provide a roadmap for action. A new deal is needed that promotes the virtuous cycle of achieving each of these individual targets that are essential for the wellbeing of people in conjunction with creating an overall  environment that promotes overall progress and prosperity. Such a new global deal will need fresh thinking, supported by effective policies and instruments in order to provide a roadmap for action. Technological learning and innovation capacity that is critical to enable the provision of essential amenities to all is fundamental to ensuring overall sustainable development. Simply put, a country develops capabilities to innovate, and the absence of such capabilities results in limitations to apply existing technologies in all sectors, including those of public importance, such as health, agriculture and climate change. This has been recognized as well by  the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which notes the right of all people “to enjoy the benefits of scientific progress and its applications.” Science & technology capacity within countries as a whole should therefore be considered as an important international priority. There is a need to rethink how best to diffuse existing technologies as well as promote access to new technologies for all. Whether embodied as products or processes or in the form of knowledge transfers, such exchange holds the key for a sustainable and prosperous future for all. Universities and research institutions can also provide substantial support to inclusive innovation initiatives. Given the large potential of the market for the poor, the private sector itself can likely become a driver of inclusive innovation in S&T. Although there has been substantial progress in India, there is still a lot of untapped potential for more inclusive innovation initiatives. One main challenge is how to scale up inclusive innovations. This is closely linked to the issues of affordability, sustainability and quality. The process of spreading inclusive innovations has already started with growing interest from the business sector. Finally, there is the issue of financing inclusive innovation in S&T. Finding a solution to these challenges will require innovation in innovation itself.
On the grassroots level, S&T organisations provide funds and technical consultation. A major challenge for policymakers at regional/local levels is often to select between short-term and long-term policy tools as this choice introduces a trade-off between visible, easily measured economic development in the short run and less tangible, longer term social benefits.  The need of an hour is a national science, technology and innovation policy that is coherent, inclusive and can ensure meeting the multidimensional targets. Indeed, the role of the ST&I activities at grassroots level with an active involvement between science and technology research institutes with incentives for private entities to develop solutions that might reap the benefits of inclusive development in long run.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here