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New Tasks in Technology

There is a tendency sometimes to focus on one or two areas of technologies. The present phase is not dominated by these. There are many new inventions; new specialized knowledge emerges in every discipline. Because of the ubiquitous presence of communication systems and computers, some tend to think that the service economy alone is enough for countries wanting to grow fast.

But life and the scientific realities are more complex. Humans and animals would require food; the necessary calories for their body and micro-nutrients for health come from grains, vegetables etc. There will be an increasing demand due to increased consumption (which privileged in the would who live in poverty) and also due to population increase. By 2020, it is expected that world population will be about 10 billion.

Feeding people of the world with an assured security against natural disasters including droughts is a challenge. The knowledge intensity required to ensure this increase in agricultural output with lesser and lesser land is no less challenging than any other project. Knowledge of matching the soils, climates, inputs as well as the care needed for short-term and long-term environmental ecological considerations would require confluence of several technologies. Newer knowledge from biotechnology as well as the knowledge obtained by a scientific revisit to the ancient knowledge, which is now an accepted practice especially in the most developed countries, add newer dimensions.

Let us now quickly look at other sectors.

Manufacturing has not and will not disappear from human society. It acquires newer features. Newer technologies change the face. There will be demand for all round increase in efficiency coming close to the physical limits. For example, the energy efficiencies of machines have to come close to their thermo-dynamic limits. This is required for energy saving and also to reduce global warming. Materials will be recycled. Design from the initial stages itself and later the manufacuring processes will have recycling as a built-in feature.

The IT intensity will offer many new forms of customer service. Indian software strengths would need to be focussed on capturing global markets for these new manufacturing system softwares. Indian firms and experts will have to aspire to market Indian software products on a global scale, as unique and well sought after products.

The emerging frontiers of space, in which India has achieved globally competitive excellence and ocean research where India has a firm presence, provide many technology linked business opportunities for industries. In order to tap all the potentials and to convert the needs to products and services, the role of business and industry is crucial.

Our industries and business persons should focus on the domestic markets and also set their sights for large share of global markets. The active and dominant participation by industries in the projects of Technology Development Board (TDB), the Home Grown Technology (HGT) projects etc, give me confidence that industries have become active in developing and using new technologies.

(Excerpted from the inagural address delivered by Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Union HRD Minister, at the Technology, Information and Assessment Council's (TIFAC) 12th anniversary conference in New Delhi).

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