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Nanotechnology in India

Nanotechnology in India. Krishna Ravi Srinivas RIS GEST Project Meeting, Preston 16 th March 2012. Nanotech in India. Nanoscience & Technology Initiative 2002-2006-Rs 350 Crores 2007-Launch of Nanotechnology Mission- $200 million under Department of Science & Technology

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Nanotechnology in India

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  1. Nanotechnology in India Krishna Ravi Srinivas RIS GEST Project Meeting, Preston 16th March 2012

  2. Nanotech in India • Nanoscience & Technology Initiative 2002-2006-Rs 350 Crores • 2007-Launch of Nanotechnology Mission- $200 million under Department of Science & Technology • Number of Projects 22-2002 , 34-2009-2010 • Centres of Excellence -19 in 14 Institutions –basic R&D • Autonomous Institutions, CSIR labs, Universities – major R&D work is being done • Other ministries also fund nanotechnology related projects • DBT major funder in health related nanotechnology, energy, water, agriculture and studies on toxicity have been funded

  3. Institutional Capacity & Funding • First phase basic science funded • Nanomission applied is given importance but basic research is still funded • Institutional capacity is limited to few centers- so nanotech research community is small • Private sector R&D minimal- mostly in pharmaceuticals, consumer goods (water filters) • Lack of critical mass of scientists in key areas- scientists working on fullertones is much less than China

  4. Nanotech & Ethical Issues • There is an absence of ethical issues being debated • Only two studies have been done on perceptions of scientists working in NT-very limited sample size • Group at CTRI, Lucknow working on toxicity studies but there are not many groups on ELSI issues in NT • One reason is NT is confined to labs and centres- no major product in the market • Ethical issues in NT in India in terms of access, equity and inclusion will be articulated and discussed • Policy statements indicate awareness of potential to benefit common people • "Understanding the immense potential of nanotechnology and its wide ranging applications to benefit common people, DIT  initiated the Nanotechnology Development Programme in 2004, through which it plans to create R & D capacity and infrastructure in nanoelectronics at national level. The emphasis is on small and medium level research projects in specific areas of nanoelectronics such as nanomaterials, nanodevices, carbon nanotubes (CNT), nanosystems, nanometrology, et al.” • But there is awareness among some scientists who are willing to discuss them (interviews at NanoScience Centre, IISc, Bangalore) • Nanofoodtechnology R&D in infancy – hardly any funding under Nanomission except one project at TNAU, Coimbatore but there is no discussion on ethical issues in nanofood technology

  5. Regulation • Right now there is no regulatory framework – so existing laws like EPA, Factories Act, Drugs &Cosmetics Act are applicable • No clear policy/guidelines on regulation- DST constituted a working group on regulation of NT • Little debate on regulatory structures/regimes on NT for India- only academic debate • There is no nanotechnology industry- nor has been much commercialization • ARCI, Hyderabad commissioned a study on impacts of its product Nanosilver based water filter on environment, issues in recycling, collection and Life Cycle Analysis • Not much involvement of civil society or trade unions in this • Coverage in media is limited except some stories like the one that appeared in Forbes India • But sooner or later regulation has to be given the importance

  6. Strength & Weaknesses • Strength: Support &funding, availability of human resources and institutional capacity for inter-disciplinary research – almost all areas are funded and new centers have been set up to foster specialization as well as inter-disciplinary research • This has resulted in increase in number of publications and research projects • Weaknesses: lack of private sector involvement, human resource base is restricted to selected institutions and research groups are limited in number • Lack of commercialization of research done in earlier phase and under Nanomission • Govt. support sustains it but any cut in allocation to Nanomission or Minsitry of S&T will affect the funding • Absence of debates on ethical issues or regulation • Public perception not known- no civil society involvmebnt

  7. What next The need to consolidate and translate research to products is to be prioritized – CNR Rao, NanoMission Govt. may opt for regulation and hence may call for consultations but experience with biotechnology regulation indicates that framing regulatory regime will be a major challenge Some acts like Factories Act, Drug & Cosmetics Act may be amended ISI working with other bodies on nano-standards at global level –hence standards may be deployed if there is a consensus on that More work is needed on identifying ethical issues, studying public perception and regulatory issues Nanotech as a test case for access, inclusion and equity- how to do that

  8. Conclusion – Questions and Questions • There are advantages and disadvantages in studying ethical issues an emerging technology- nanotech is a good example • But what to do if ethical issues are not raised by govt. or stakeholders and how to identify relevant ethical issues in the Indian context • How to identify an appropriate regulatory regime for NT in the absence of a globally accepted framework – should India wait and watch • Should India start working on regulations and start by improving upon/modifying current ones or should opt for a new framework • What principles should guide product development and R&D in NT- • How to overcome weaknesses and enhance capacity and competence in NT • We hope to engage with these issues and questions rather than coming up with quick fixes or answers at this stage

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