National Science Congresses are gathering places for India’s science bureaucracy and incumbent prime ministers. Some homilies are delivered and people?move?on. The 97th such congress, held recently, was another such occasion. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that science needed to be freed from red tape and scientists of Indian origin abroad encouraged to return home.
These are dead letter issues. So long as the government continues to persist with a control and command approach in science, there is no point talking about cutting bureaucratic corners. Today, with a thriving private sector, the demand for science and innovating new technologies lies elsewhere. There are, of course, sectors where the government has a role to play: space and defence research being two cases. But those sectors have been purposely kept away from the death glare of the bureaucracy.
A better approach would be to give tax and credit breaks to private sector research laboratories instead of funnelling money into government sinkholes.