Chennai: Expressing concern at India lagging behind some countries in research, a top scientist on Monday called for steps like opening up the education sector to foreign players and creating Special Education Zones on the lines of Special Economic Zones to address the issue.
"In a recent report by a panel headed by (veteran scientist) Prof C N R Rao, it has been pointed out that India`s position in the world of science has declined in the past 20 years and that it is yet to become a major force in science," Prof K C Pandey, General President of Indian Science Congress Association said.
In his presidential address at the 98th Indian Science Congress here, Pandey said this was mainly due to the "sub-critical and inadequate investment" by the government and industry in research, which he said, had led to a disconnect between research laboratories and industry.
"In 1930, Sir C V Raman won a Nobel Prize for his discovery of inelastic photon scattering, known as the Raman Effect. It became a powerful tool for analysing matter, but it was other countries which used the basic knowledge of Raman Effect to invest Raman scanners, which pinches us.
"The paradigm of science being born in India and the resulting products exploited abroad has to change," he said.
He also rued that India was not up on the list of countries which invested more on research.
"In all advanced countries, universities and university level institutes constitute strong centres of research. Advanced countries spend around 30 per cent of their total Research and Development expenditure in the university sector, while in India it is only six per cent, Pandey noted.
Inadequate financial resources lead to poor infrastructure and physical facilities that adversely affect scientific research and development of new technology, he said.
To boost R&D as well as the overall science education scenario, Pandey suggested a slew of measures.
He said the Centre or state governments, in collaboration with the private sector, should establish Special Education Zones primarily dedicated to the development of higher professional educational institutions and R&D centres.
"These will attract more investment in new establishments and new campuses in existing institutions. The Special Education Zones should function with the modern mantra of networking. Advanced design, fabrication, laboratory and workshop among others should be available to all on payment basis," he said.
Foreign universities should be welcome to have their own campuses or collaborate with existing institutions, he added.
He also called for recognising and applauding accomplishments of researchers and scientists, akin to the accolades showered on performing sportspersons.