|Technological Independence The Asian experience (UNU, 1994, 372 pages)|
The study has been conducted in two stages, the one dealing with the overall economy level and the second analysing the process of technological development in four industries, two of which are engineering (machine tools and thermal power equipment) and two process-based industries (petroleum refining and chemical fertilizers). All the industries selected have enjoyed a key place in India's plans for import substitution and industrialization because of the intensive linkages they have with other sectors. The analysis, both at the overall macro level and in the industry case-studies, has attempted to assess the level of S&T self-reliance achieved, and to bring out the role of government policies and other factors in facilitating technological transformation.
India's planning for self-reliance in S&T has sought to reduce the country's dependence on imported S&T resources. In order to assess whether dependence has actually declined, the study analysed trends in a number of indicators proxying different aspects of dependence on foreign technology, charting the build-up of an autonomous capability to absorb, adapt, and indigenize imported technology, and to innovate and develop products and processes locally. The trends observed in each of these indicators reveal considerable progress towards the achievement of S&T self-reliance. In respect of the availability of skilled and technical manpower for operating plants and of design, engineering, and fabricating equipment, India has achieved almost total self-sufficiency, particularly in industries in which the rate of technological change is not fast.
Whether judged in terms of S&T infrastructure and other indicators of S&T development or in terms of performance (e.g. technology exports), the intercountry comparisons have grouped India with a few countries that have the most advanced S&T capabilities in the developing world.
The achievement of India in the sphere of S&T capability-building, though commendable, was found to fall short of expectations and potential. In the light of the determinants of innovative activity and utilization of local technology vis-à-vis imported ones, some directions for future technology policy have also been outlined.
The development of S&T capabilities is a complex process that is influenced by a wide array of social, cultural, economic, and external factors. This study has brought out a number of factors found to affect overall S&T development and technological capability-building in two engineering and two process industries in India. The findings suggest that public policy and direct governmental intervention have played a central role in capability-building. As there is considerable inter-industry variation in their relative roles, a fuller comprehension of the factors contributing to the technological development would necessitate further analysis of more industries, particularly those with different ownership characteristics and market structures, and growth profiles other than the ones studied here. Similarly, intercountry analyses may bring out the role of sociocultural factors in technological development. Nevertheless, it is hoped that the present study will lead to more extensive research on this subject of vital importance, and that it will prove useful in providing a conceptual framework for further work.