Science policy draft: 30% top posts for women, spousal benefits for LGBTQ+

STIP 2020 draft

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STIP 2020 draft

In News:

  • The draft Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020 was recently released by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Once finalized, STIP 2020 will replace the STI policy of 2013.
  • The DST has invited suggestions, inputs and comments for making changes by January 25.

Vision of Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (STIP) 2020

  • Achieve technological self-reliance and place India among the top three scientific superpowers in the decade to come (2021-2030).
  • Attract, nurture, strengthen and retain human capital through a ‘people centric’ science, technology and innovation (STI) ecosystem.
  • Double the number of Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) researchers, Gross Domestic Expenditure on R&D (GERD) and private sector contribution to the GERD every 5 years.
  • Build individual and institutional excellence in STI to achieve the highest level of global recognitions and awards in the coming decade.

Highlights of the draft STIP 2020 Policy:
Institutional set up:
  • An Open Science Framework will be built to provide access to scientific data, information, knowledge and resources to everyone in the country.
  • The STIP will lead to the establishment of a National STI Observatory that will act as a central repository (storehouse) for all kinds of data related to and generated from the STI ecosystem.
  • From this Observatory, all data and information related to publicly-funded research would be made freely accessible to everyone under “FAIR (Fair, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) terms”.
  • dedicated portal to provide access to the outputs of publicly-funded research will be created through the Indian Science and Technology Archive of Research (INDSTA).
  • It also proposes to establish education research centres (ERCs) and collaborative research centres (CRCs) to provide research inputs to policymakers and bring stakeholders together.
  • Research and Innovation Excellence Frameworks (RIEF) will be developed to improve the quality of research and to promote engagements with the relevant stakeholders.
One Nation One Subscription Policy:
  • Further, the government has proposed the One Nation One Subscription Policy, to buy bulk subscriptions of all important scientific journals across the world and provide everyone in India free access to them.
  • The world’s best scientific journals are expensive, due to which, even top institutions have to be selective in subscribing to these journals.
  • One Nation, One Subscription is proposed as part of a new Open Science Framework that will ensure free access to scientific data for all.
Funding mechanisms:
  • The policy proposes the formation of an STI Development Bank for direct investments on various long and medium-term projects in select strategic areas, commercial ventures, start-ups and licensing.
  • Each state will allocate a percentage of the state allocation for STI-related activities under a separate budget head.
  • Each department or ministry in the central, state and local governments, public sector enterprises, private sector companies and startups will set up an STI unit with a minimum budget to pursue STI activities.
  • It also proposes that hybrid (mixed) funding models with participation from public and private sectors will be created through the Advanced Missions in Innovative Research Ecosystem (ADMIRE).
Recruitment and Retention:
  • For age-related cut-offs in matters relating to selection, promotion, awards or grants, the “academic age” and not the biological age would be considered.
  • While this would help women who often have to take a break from careers for family reasons and to raise children, the benefits of this provision is not restricted to women alone.
  • Child-care benefits are proposed to be made gender-neutral, and flexible work timings and adequate parental leave should be offered for maternity, childbirth and child care needs.
  • All publicly-funded research institutions and universities will be asked to provide day-care centre for children of employees, and also have a provision for elderly care.
Dual recruitment policy:
  • As of now, married couples are not posted in the same department, which leads to cases of loss of employment or forced transfers when colleagues decide to get married.
  • Going forward, dual recruitment policy will be encouraged in all governing bodies, funding agencies, so that couples do not face the challenge of choosing a spouse’s career over their career. The aim is to bring gender neutrality through such measures.
Creating Inclusive Culture:
  • The policy proposes to set up an Equity and Inclusive (E&I) Charter, that will deal with all kinds of discriminations — gender, caste, religion, geography, language, disability and other exclusions and inequalities.
  • There will be equal opportunity in academics for women along with candidates from rural – remote areas, marginalised communities, differently abled groups.
  • At least 30% representation has to be ensured for women in all decision-making bodies, including selection and evaluation committees.
  • Talented women scientists will be promoted to leadership positions across research and science administration to create inspiration for women aspiring to pursue science careers.
  • The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ+) community should be included in all the conversations related to gender equity. Provisions will be made to 
safeguard their rights and promote their representation in STI.
  • The LGBTQ+ community will also be entitled for spousal benefits (including retirement benefits) to any partner irrespective of their gender.
  • Differently-abled individuals, including Divyangjans, will be given special attention.
Miscellaneous provisions:
  • The research culture will be reoriented to recognise social impacts along with academic achievements.
  • Proactive steps will be taken to improve awareness and visibility of Indian journals and digital versions of print journals will be created to make them more accessible to the international scientific community.
  • All public-funded scientific resources will be made shareable and accessible nationally with the use of digital platforms.
  • Libraries at public-funded institutions will be accessible to the public, and will only be subject to reasonable security protocols.
  • The public library system will be expanded to all districts with the help of technological interventions.

Also Read: Editorial Analysis: Aligning India’s STIP-2020 vision with NEP

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