Budget Speech - PART A
Science & Information Technology
Science and Technology
- My last budget was viewed in certain quarters as science and technology-friendly. Flattery has its rewards, and I intend to strengthen my friendship with the scientific community. I propose to take the following initiatives:
- The scheme to match every additional commercial rupee earned by CSIR and ICAR laboratories, as well as the IITs, will continue on a permanent basis.
- The Technology Development Board, established to accelerate the commercialisation of indigenous technology, has identified 16 projects that are commercially viable in the fields of agriculture, health, chemicals and pharmaceuticals. In 1996-97, I provided Rs.30 crore to the Technology Development Fund. I propose to increase the allocation in 1997-98 to Rs.70 crore.
- Tomorrow's technology is based on today's science. I am concerned that there is declining interest in the learning of sciences in schools and colleges. I hold the view that an MBA even if he is from Harvard is not a patch on a scientist. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of our Independence, we will launch the "Swarnajayanti" fellowships. Outstanding scientists below the age of 45 will be assisted to attain and sustain world class levels in science. A sum of Rs.50 crore in the Department of Education's budget will be used to create a corpus. The Minister of State for Science and Technology will announce the details of the scheme.
- Closer linkages have to be developed between Indian industry and publicly-funded research laboratories. Hence, I propose to allow government-promoted societies recognised by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and notified under the Income Tax Act to invest in the equity of private sector companies. These institutions will invest not money but their knowledge and know-how as their equity.
- If there is one science that will dominate the 21st century, it is information technology. If there is one industry in which India can emerge as a world leader, it is information technology. However, for this potential to be realised, we need a completely new policy for manufacturing and marketing IT products. The Electronic Hardware Technology Park (EHTP) Scheme, presently in force, gives limited flexibility. There is an imperative need to increase production volumes and attract foreign direct investment. Accordingly, it has been decided that EHTP/EOU/EPZ units in electronic hardware may be permitted to sell one half of the value of their products, during any 12 month period, in the domestic market and export the other half. The sale in the domestic market will be on payment of excise duty equivalent to full customs duty, including the additional duty of customs. Details of the new unified manufacturing scheme will be incorporated in the new EXIM policy that will be effective from April 1, 1997.
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