Centre constitutes new scientific advisory body to the Prime Minister
The central government on Tuesday constituted a new 21-member advisory panel on science, technology and innovation under the chairmanship of Principal Scientific Advisor, K VijayRaghavan, that will also co-ordinate the implementation of programmes through various bodies.
“This gives a fresh direction to the country’s science and technology sector. The council will advise the PM on science, technology, as well as innovation, but also coordinate the implementation of the PMs vision,” said VijayRaghavan.
The council must “actively aid in the formulation and timely implementation of major science and technology missions” and “evolve interdisciplinary technology development programmes,” the government order announcing its formation said.
The new council has nine members, including Dr VK Saraswat, member of NITI Aayog and former director general of Defence Research and Development Organisation, Dr AS Kiran Kumar, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, and Maj Gen Madhuri Kanitkar, dean of Armed Forces Medical College, Pune.
Manjul Bhargava, professor at Princeton University and a Fields medal winner, Subhash Kak, a professor at Oklahoma State University, and Baba Kalyani, the managing director of Bharat Forge, an Indian multinational corporation are also members of the council.
Apart from the nine members, the council will also have twelve special invitees — eleven ex officio secretaries of various departments including health research, atomic energy and higher education and one member invited by the chair.
“This is a good move because scientific advisory bodies had been defunct for a while now. These bodies have a great role to play and ideally all government decisions should be based on their advise. In my view, the composition of the council should be such that there are more practising scientists rather than bureaucrats and scientists who are now in administrative roles,” said Soumitro Banerjee, General Secretary of the Breakthrough Science Society that organised March for Science in India.
The panel, called the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology and Innovation Advisory Council (PM-STIAC) will replace the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Prime Minister and to the Cabinet.
These committees, which were first set up in 1999 under the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, had a term running concurrently with the government’s. In 2014 , the new NDA government decided not to constitute this committee. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appointed VijayRaghavan as his scientific advisor.
“The new council will not go out with the current government. This council is concerned with the national effort and will remain in office till it is reconstituted,” said VijayRaghavan.
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