ASCI's Academy for Science Policy Implementation & Research (ASPIRE), supported by the Centre for Human and Organisational Resource Development (CHORD) division, Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, organised a two-day workshop on "National Scientific Research Infrastructure Policy" at India International Centre, New Delhi, on February 9 and 10, 2017.

The workshop, attended by 45 participants including senior scientists and academicians from 35 leading organizations, laboratories, academic institutions and research organizations dealing with scientific infrastructure issues from all across the country, discussed issues of procurement, maintenance, sharing and disposal. It also enabled discussions on best practices and the need to standardize procedures across all scientific departments and academia. "A new scientific infrastructure policy has been recommended by all the participants of the workshop. The broad contours of this new policy has also been discussed threadbare," Dr. Nirmalya Bagchi, Dean of Research and Management Studies, at ASCI said.

Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Hon’ble Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, in his inaugural address, discussed the vision behind the Prime Minister’s speech at the Indian Science Congress at Tirupati earlier this year and its relevance in today’s context.

"Tapping of dormant scientific manpower at universities is an important priority. People often do research in institutions that may not have the capacity to support the work (like in colleges in districts). So this capacity can be activated by making use of neighbouring research infrastructure, by creating some motivation for the researcher in the college, by giving fellowship and then connecting him/her to scientific infrastructure nearby. Linking the scientists and infrastructure and bring them to the fore would unleash the dormant talent," he said adding that introduction of Scientific Social Responsibility is the need of the hour.

"The fact that 94% of the equipment is imported, goes very contrary to Make in India and initiatives are urgently needed to create a domestic eco system for scientific equipment manufacturing. It is not just about Making in India, it is also about Maintaining in India. Since we cannot make it, we cannot maintain it, leading us to forever depend on people who supply us the equipment," he maintained.

Prof. Sharma stressed on five strong pillars of doing R&D and one needs intervention and policy for each of these pillars. They are: 1) Capacity building: We need effective trained scientists, 2) Quality of scientists, 3) Availability of scientific infrastructure for doing research, 4) Networking and, 5) Presentation of our R&D results and connecting to them to our users.

Dr. Parveen Arora, Advisor and Head of CHORD Division of DST and Prof. Bagchi also spoke. This workshop was planned as a part of the study being conducted by ASPIRE on the issue of bringing greater efficiency in public expenditure in Research and Development by introducing policy measures in creating, operating, maintaining, sharing and disposal of scientific infrastructure.

The prominent organisations represented in the workshop were Directorate General of Supplies and Disposal (DGS&D), Department of Science and Technology(DST), Inter University Accelerator Centre(IUAC), National Institute of Nutrition(NIN), Central Manufacturing Technology Institute (CMTI), IIT Bombay, IIT Madras, IIT Delhi, Delhi University, C-DAC, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Indian Institute of Chemical Technology(IICT), Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics(CDFD),  Structural Engineering Research Centre(SERC), IISER Pune, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), National Aeronautics Laboratory(NAL), Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms(CCAMP), Indian Institute of Foreign Trade(IIFT), Bennet University, Fergusson College, TERI, and others.