Topic: GS3 – Science and technology.
- India’s space research efforts in the 1960s initially faced skepticism.
- The nation invested in space science and technology as part of a broader strategy for technological advancement.
- This article discusses India’s early investments in space research and technology, its successes in space exploration, the role of public funding, and the challenges of persistent inequalities in the country’s development strategy.
- It emphasizes the need for state support to build technological capabilities and make economic growth more inclusive.
Early Investments in Technology:
- India’s research programs in space science were coordinated by the Department of Atomic Energy.
- The country established Indian Institutes of Technology and Indian Institutes of Management in the 1960s.
- Public sector units were founded in various industrial areas, including steel, fertilizer, machine tools, and petrochemicals.
- These investments aimed to accelerate India’s development after two centuries of colonialism.
Criticism of Development Strategy:
- Criticisms included heavy reliance on public investment and misdirection of resources.
- Some argued that India should focus on labor-intensive industries rather than capital- and technology-intensive sectors.
Significance of Public Funding in India’s technological advancement:
- Public funding played a crucial role in India’s space program’s eventual success.
- Long-term and uncertain benefits of technology made public support essential.
- Public goods nature of technology required government intervention.
- State-supported technological capabilities provided the foundation for private enterprise in various sectors.
- Professionals trained in public universities found leadership positions globally, which strengthened India’s strategic importance.
Challenges and Persistent Inequalities:
- India’s development strategy faced challenges due to persistent inequalities.
- Lack of effective land redistribution and asset ownership hindered social development.
- Ownership of assets remained low among marginalized communities, impacting education and job opportunities.
- Inequalities negatively impacted industrial and economic growth.
- Skewed domestic demand from upper-income classes limited the growth of high-quality, mass-consumption goods.
- Entrepreneurship emerged from a narrow social base.
- India must reinstate efforts to build technological and industrial capabilities with state support.
- Industrial policy remains relevant in a globalized economy.
- Inclusive education, particularly in higher education, should be accessible to all, including marginalized communities.
- Achieving social and human capabilities for upward mobility is crucial for broad-based economic progress.
- India’s journey to leverage technology for development has seen success, but addressing persistent inequalities and reinstating state support for industrial growth are vital for sustained progress and broad-based development.
Mains question: Evaluate India’s investment in technology and its role in economic growth. Discuss the challenges posed by inequality and propose strategies for inclusive development in the era of technological advancement.