China has significantly improved its ICT and internet infrastructure in past years. Patent data also show that China is a top world player in new technologies related to the Internet of Things and Big Data, and that it holds the third-largest portfolio – after Japan and the United States – of patents in bursting technologies for wireless communication. The internet plus initiative also aims to make China a leading player in certain technology areas like 5G internet and integrated circuits. However, the relatively higher price and lower speed of China’s Internet has been highly criticized and there is still room for further improvement.
India is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies, with a rapidly increasing population. Future growth prospects look good, although poverty continues to be a major challenge. Despite the abundant supply of a large, low-cost labour force, recent economic growth has relied mainly on capital investments and skilled labour.
Innovation is seen as critical to India’s socioeconomic development. Through its national strategy, Decade of Innovations 2010-20, the government aims to strengthen S capacities based on the strategy- a strong and visible Science, Research and Innovation System for High Technology led path for India (SRISHTI). The goal is to raise gross domestic expenditure on R to 2% of GDP by 2020. The 12th Five Year Plan’s (2012-17) overall emphasis was to reinforce India’s education system, boosting investment in S and fostering translational research.
For India, addressing societal challenges including the question of inclusiveness is of paramount importance. India’s 12th Five Year Plan seeks to address social challenges, especially poverty and exclusion, by catalyzing a growth process that will promote more inclusive and sustainable development. The Department of Science & Technology (DST) together with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) have implemented a series of Impacting Research Innovation and Technology projects (IMPRINT) that will address major societal and developmental needs such as healthcare, ICT, energy, sustainable habitat, water resources and river systems, security and defense, and the environment and climate. Inclusive innovation initiatives that focus on innovation outcomes which benefit poor and excluded groups in India receive particular attention, as do the innovation activities of the poor themselves. For this purpose India has setup Inclusive Innovation Fund and the National Innovation Foundation (NIF) to support grassroots innovators. India also has a weak healthcare capacity. Malnutrition, the lack of infrastructure for sanitation and clean drinking water along with the shortage of health professionals, all contribute to poor public health conditions. The National Urban Health Mission has been approved in 2013 with a view to improving the health status of the urban population, especially in slum areas, by facilitating access to primary health care. India also encourages the utilization of indigenous systems of medicine.
The Ministry of Science and Technology operates three departments that have a wide range of activities like human and institutional capacity-building, community engagement and STI policy support: the Department of Science & Technology (DST), which plays a pivotal role in promoting science and technology; the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), which supports industrial R&D and technology transfer activities; and the Department of Biotechnology, which promotes S&T in the biotechnology area. The DST has given emphasis to aligning its activities with the national agenda in various policy domains e.g. Make in India, Startup India, Digital India, Swachh Bharat etc. In 2015, the government released its technology roadmap to 2035, which identifies 12 high impact technology areas and provides a common vision of STI’s contribution to India’s future. To align the national S&T education, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) through its various departments is implementing a holistic education policy, with consultation and co-ordination with DST. Also, the National Policy on Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, 2015 provides an umbrella framework for all skilling activities being carried out within the country.
India also faces stiff challenges related to water, food and energy security and the environment, since demographic and economic growth is exerting pressure on its natural resources. Waste management is also a colossal challenge, because of the large volumes of waste generated and the persisting practice of waste being disposed of in open areas, giving rise to severe environmental and public health consequences. The National Action Plan on Climate Change (2008) remains the policy framework to support the development of renewable energy e.g. solar technology and energy efficiency e.g. tradable energy-savings certificates and incentives for adopting energy-efficient appliances. Efforts have been made in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors to develop climate-resilient crops and green manufacturing facilities. A joint R&D initiative between the DST and the Ministry of Railways aims to develop alternate fuels and new technological solutions for fuel efficiency. In 2015, the government launched the Swachh Bharat Mission with a view to cleaning up cities and villages, improving hygiene, waste management and sanitation systems and raising awareness among populations.
India’s production has been shifting away from agriculture, but mostly into services rather than manufacturing, and the productivity of the manufacturing sector remains low. The 2011 National Manufacturing Policy (NMP), and its subsequent revision in 2016, aims to drive the manufacturing sector’s growth and increase its global competitiveness and environmental sustainability. The policy addresses areas of regulation, infrastructure, skills, technology, development and finance availability. The NMP aims at raising the share of manufacturing from 16% to 25% of GDP and creating 100 million new manufacturing jobs by 2022 by focusing on the development of capital goods industries, labour intensive industries, strategic industries and industries where India enjoys a competitive advantage like automobiles, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.