Disclaimer: The below points have been reproduced from memory only and may not be exactly what I wrote in the exam.
India was one of the richest nations in the world in the medieval ages i.e. 16th and 17th centuries. Then Akbar rejected the Guttenberg press. Jahangir rejected the water lift. Indian mariners took little interest in adopting the compass and other marine discoveries of the world from the Europeans. The result – within less than a century and a half – India became a slave to those very Europeans!
India’s recent Mars mission – Mangalyaan – was criticised by some. Questions were raised – can a country as poor as India afford to indulge in such scientific ‘extravaganza’? Wouldn’t this money be better spent on reducing poverty, providing drinking water, sanitation etc.? But if history is any lesson, Mangalyaan was every inch worth it at this cost (Rs. 450 crores), if for nothing else then simply for keeping India on top of the technologies of the age and developing scientific temper.
Science is essential for the development of a nation. Its most important contribution is that it helps in creating the larger social ecosystem required for growth. It promotes new ideas, removes all feudal institutions, conservatism, superstitions. It makes society open to change – change which is essential for the development of society. But it also creates many unintended challenges and also may be inadequate by itself. So it is not a panacea and needs to be managed well and supported by appropriate policy framework.
In the remaining paragraphs of the essay, we will explore each sector, see how science is essential for the development of the sector and our security, yet it is not the panacea and needs to be managed.
AGRICULTURE GROWTH AND FOOD SECURITY AND SCIENCE
– Talked about need of science for ensuring food security – our population is growing, but acreage under cultivation is more or less stagnant. So need to increase productivity which can come only by science.
– Talked about irrigation – india is a water scarce nation. so need to encourage micro irrigation techniques.
– Talked about need of science in disaster warning, crop survey, marketing.
– Talked about use of biometrics in PDS to reduce leakages.
– All this way, science can help us reduce poverty as well, because development of agriculture has highest impact on poverty.
– Talked about challenges created by science. Bt crops and farmer suicides. Bt makes agriculture riskier, hence higher number of suicides. Suggested we need to include socio economic considerations as well apart from scientific safety while giving approvals.
– Talked about science alone not enough. we need to better supply chain, invest more etc. On PDS, biometrics not the only solution, we need social audits, universalisation etc. In water, need water audits, water user associations etc.
– So science is essential but not the panacea. It needs to be managed.
INDUSTRY, SERVICES AND INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT ISSUES AND SCIENCE
– Talked about Industrial revolution, how it is ongoing and still needed.
– Talked about how technology has transformed our lives. mobiles, IT etc. How we need it to improve governance.
– Talked about how science can help us discover substitutes for imports, develop our own resource base.
– Gave the limitations of science here, need to focus on inclusive growth else it won’t be sustainable. Talked about tribal displacement here.
– Moral of the story, science is absolutely essential, but not the panacea. We need good policies as well.
ENERGY SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE
– Talked about how we import most of our energy. But this is not a sustainable system for a would be global power.
– So we need shale gas, coal bed methane, nuclear energy etc. on the supply side and need more efficient vehicles, green buildings, ultra super power plants on the demand side.
– But we also have lot of coal, gas and oil which we need to explore. To do that we need right policies, land acquisition, environmental clearances, other approvals etc.
– Also need to address the safety concerns of nuclear energy post Fukishama.
– Thus needs appropriate framework with science.
CLIMATE CHANGE SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE
– Gave some findings of recent IPCC report, global warming. Gave the impact of climate change on wheat production, Indian monsoons, cyclones.
– To mitigate i.e. reduce our emissions, we will need to develop own science and tech. can’t import new technologies from west as they not giving aid any more.
– To adapt, again need science. Need drought resistant crop varieties etc.
– In research also, we need advanced satellites, supercomputers. So science needed.
– But climate change affects poor most. So need to ensure that these scientific changes help the poor.
– So science is not the panacea, but is essential. Need appropriate policy framework along with science.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE
– Talked about cyclone Phailin and Uttarakhand floods. Phailin was so severe, yet life loss was so less… why? because of science, we could accurately track phailin and give meaningful actionable warnings to administration. But in Uttarakhand, IMD’s forecasts are not accurate, vague and not actionable.
– But there are so many other aspects of disaster preparation. Administrative will, planning, vulnerability studies etc. So science again is not the panacea, though is imp. Need other things also.
BIOMEDICAL SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE
– Talked about recent Novartis, Tykreb and Bayer compulsory license issues. But said this cannot go on forever, specially if we want more FTAs.
– MNCs want profit, but we want public health. This conflict needs to be resolved. We are a net patent importer. We need to change this by becoming net patent generator. This can only happen with science.
– But then we ll have to ensure our own companies don’t become like these MNCs. Issues such as clinical trials ethics is also there.
– So again, boss, science is essential, but not panacea. Needs proper policies.
INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SECURITY ISSUES AND SCIENCE
– Wrote how china is developing its weapons ($100 bio defence budget), talked how naxals, terrorists getting most modern. So we absolutely need modern weapons, drones etc.
– Talked of NSA Prism. Need to safeguard our data.
– But science can only give us the weapon. It still needs to be fired. That will happen only with a political order. So we need political will. We need intelligence coordination.
– So again, without science we can’t do anything, but science is not the panacea. Need political will, policies etc.
– Repeated, science is essential, but not maai baap.