New Delhi: Top Indian scientists today favoured urgently designing a well-thought-out strategy to develop science and make it economically competitive to catch
up with surging China.
Taking part in a seminar on "Science and Technology in China: Implications and Lessons for India" organised here by Observer Research Foundation, the scientists noted that though both India and China were almost on the same level 30-odd years back, now India`s large neighbour has moved much ahead.
VS Ramamurthy, former Secretary of Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India, pointed out how China has gone ahead with a strategy combining science with economics and market competitiveness, which gave the neighbour a definite edge.
"China has effectively combined scientific and technological research, economics and strategic thinking", Ramamurthy said.
Giving an example, Ramamurthy said while India was one of the major makers of rare earth in the 50s, now it has stopped production of this important material because of lack of market competitiveness.
"But China, which used to import in the 50s, now controls more than 90 percent of the supply of this material, controlling the world market," he said.
One point that ran through all the presenters was that China has adopted a holistic approach and has evolved well thought-out plans and investments in every sector, thereby
enabling it to address the entire "ecosystem".
This was something that India can learn, though the general view was that India has not been doing badly, either, they said.
Despite China`s successes, it was pointed out that China would still take some more time to emerge as a leader in the field of science and technology.
The view was that if China continues to persist with building an expert base, sooner or later top quality indigenous work will begin to emerge from China.
Emphasis on education in China has been a major factor for the country to be able to reach where it is today, the scientists said, stressing the need to catch science students
They said if India has to really draw the full benefit of the demographic advantage India needs to revamp its educational system.
Speaking on development of space science in China, former ISRO Chairman U R Rao said India need not compete with China but should "carefully evaluate its capability, national needs and cost effectiveness in planning its manned space
Roddam Narasimha, Member of Space Commission and well-known Indian aerospace scientist and fluid dynamicist, said "persistent, focused, pragmatic, determined, long-term
policies, coupled with national ambitions about China`s CNP and GNP, have driven the growth of aeronautics with intelligent use of the Chinese market as irresistible bait to
Western industry, and unwavering policy of eventual design, development and manufacture within China."
Other participants included Ashok Parthasarathi, former S&T Adviser to late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, V Rajaraman, Indian nuclear scientist, N Balakrishnan of Indian Institute of Science, K Vijay Raghavan of National Centre for Biological Science and China experts.