In a piece in these pages last year, we had discussed the mutual incomprehension of Indian science and industry to the detriment of both, as well as to the nation. Apart from sometimes labouring in limited infrastructure situations, scientists in India further handicap themselves by erecting perceived barriers that get in the way of cooperating with industry and society at large.
And industrialists return the favour by assuming, incorrectly, that it's not worth the time to engage with Indian science. Or, if one must engage with science at all, it is expedient to go directly to science in the West.
We are convinced that strengthening the clusters of Indian science is definitely part of what it will take to shake up this system productively. To this end, on April 4, an open event on 'Science and Society' will be convened at Vigyan Bhavan in Delhi. This gathering will be bringing together scientists from the US and India with three overarching and concrete purposes, all directed to strengthening the intellectual ties that bind scientists to one another, and science to society.
The first purpose is to shine a spotlight on intellectual clusters, so that India can accelerate the exchange between talent and these clusters. There is already a life sciences cluster in Bengaluru, a cluster related to information technology (IT) and informatics in Hyderabad, one for medicine in Delhi, and one for automobiles and mobility in Pune.
Each cluster has, at its core, a set of collaborating universities and research centres. These provide examples on which much more can be built. This is more than an empty exhortation to collaborate. There are concrete measures to make it easier for scientists and students to engage with each other.
The benefits of clusters, beyond intellectual ferment, are getting close to critical mass. Otherwise, our individual centres are often too sub-scale to be relevant on the world stage.
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