Interview

Map policy in six months : Kapil Sibal, Science and Technology and Ocean Development

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Access to geographic information is a central policy issue in most of the developing countries. How do you see your Ministry’s role with regard to present situation of science and technology?
India has a long history of high quality and relevant research and development. In contemporary age, the role of science and technology is paramount in any country’s development, whatever is the nature of state of affairs economically or socially. Starting with agriculture, we need to double our food production and ensure better quality inputs to our farmers. Reforming the health sector is itself a challenge. Infrastructure development is another area to be taken seriously since this sector holds the key to development. Going by figures in layman terms, demographically 67 per cent of our population resides in rural areas and is involved in agriculture and rural industry, which contributes to about 20 per cent to the GDP. Even the manufacturing sector is in poor state, contributing just around 30 per cent towards the GDP. The service sector takes a lead with 50 per cent. Is it that 700 million people who do not contribute to the wealth of the nation? When it comes to the problem of illiteracy we find that 60 per cent subsidizes the rest 40 per cent of the population. In this entire scenario, the Ministry has a vital role to address every sector independently and support for its progress.

How do you see the growth of knowledge-based industry and its role in society?
If the 19th and 20th centuries demanded investments in the form of capital, the 21st century needs knowledge as an investment. Knowledge accumulation, management and dissemination have to be ensured for various sectors. The role of ICT and various tools are fundamental in this aspect and the large pool of scientific community in India needs to be tapped. The government has to make investments to raise the technical know-how. For example, the farmers are to be made aware of latest farming practices and this was how the first Green Revolution took place.

Do you think that the Survey of India‘s range of maps is adequate for urban and regional planners? What is your opinion on moving towards 1: 5,000 or 1:10,000 scale maps or need based maps?
We have maps of scales lower than 1:50,000 for rural areas. It is true that we need good maps for urban areas. SoI alone cannot complete the task of mapping. It will have to delegate the work to private entrepreneurs so that within couple of years we have the entire data on the required scale. Having data on the right scale is not enough; it should be supplemented by data from other government departments. It has to be tailor-made for use by each department in the country. We need a road map

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