India will soon have a major Science funding agency with an annual budget of Rs 1,000 crore, said Professor CNR Rao, chairman Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister.
Talking to the
from Bangalore Dr Rao said the matter was discussed at the review meeting of the Scientific Advisory Council with Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh on the 21st April.
The proposal to set up the National Science Engineering and Research Board responsible for funding of scientific research in the country will now be submitted to the Parliament, he added.
"Prime Minister had approved the Board a year and a half ago but the delay was due to the bureaucratic procedure," Dr Rao added.
Dr Rao, who had made a presentation to the Prime Minister on the progress in various scientific fields in the presence of Earth Sciences Minister Kapil Sibal, said "India unlike China and US still didnot have a major funding agency for science activities to set up new units of excellence, improve quality and initiate new research."
"We have been talking about such a funding agency for the past 20 years. Now the plan is ready having gone through all the screenings and committees," he added.
The Board will be chaired by an eminent scientist and have a Secretary level officer as Executive Director in charge of all the day to day activities, he said.
He said the Prime Minister also felt it a "good idea" approving in principle a proposal to have a dedicated knowledge television channel in a public private partnership. We have Education Satellite but do not have a dedicated knowledge channel like UK, US or China."
The meeting also took up the important issue of re-structuring the Indian Council of Medical Research "which hardly has much funds or powers today."
"We will like to give greater empowerment to the ICMR by establishing a Department of Medical Research and Education. The Secretary of the Department will be the Director General of ICMR. Today ICMR is looked after a bureaucrat in the Health Ministry. Union Health Minister Ramdoss has been very supportive of the proposal," he added.
The need for a National Science and Technology Commission which had been proposed even during the time of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was also discussed, he said.
The issue of many scientific institutions remaining headless due to enormous delays in appointment of Directors and in getting these approved due to bureaucratic impediments was also raised, he added.