PMO lets ISRO have a new launch site

The instruction came at a special review of the S& T sector by PMO on Friday last, the first under UPA-II.

While a feasibility study for setting up a new launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota is underway, it would come into use only if ISRO receives approval for its ambitious manned space flight, a key element of the space agency’s plans. ISRO is facing a shortage of transponders due to DTH (direct to home) and communication requirements, though the gap was likely to be met within two years, sources said. Aiming at attracting private capital in a big way in the science and technology sector, the PMO asked scientific departments to prepare a road map on how to double private sector funding in research in the next five years, by October end.

Increased private participation in R&D is going to be the core of government strategy to push R&D forward. Contrary to science and technology scenario in other countries, investment in R&D in India is highly skewed with public sector funding crossing 80 per cent. In advanced economies, private players play a major role.

PMO was pushing for increasing private sector input to around 50 per cent from the present 20 per cent, sources said. The strategy would be to create a policy framework to promote risk-taking and private-public partnership in science and innovation.

“Innovation is a high-risk business. We have to create an environment in which there is scope for risk-mitigation and provision for learning from failures, rather than shunning the people who took the risk,” said an official present at the meeting. The policy prescription, if accepted by the government, may eventually change the auditing parameters of scientific projects.

The PMO also pushed the scientific departments to increase their research output in terms of scientific literature. At present, only 2 per cent of  literature from India was published in international research journals.

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