On the 26th of March, 2018, Prof. K VijayRaghavan, ex-Secretary, Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and ex-Director of the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), was appointed the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India. He succeeds Dr. R. Chidambaram and is expected to assume the office shortly.
Prof. VijayRaghavan served as the Secretary of DBT from January 2013 till February 2018. In addition, he also held additional charge of Secretary, Department of Science & Technology (DST), Secretary, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) and Secretary, Department of Health Research (DHR) during his stint at New Delhi.
Prof. VijayRaghavan has been elected as Fellow of Royal Society and as a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences. In addition, he is elected to major academies in India and abroad. Earlier, he has also been conferred with the Padma Shri (2013), H K Firodia Award (2012), Infosys Prize (2009), and many such accolades.
He was among the first batch of faculty who joined the National Centre for Biological Sciences where he succeeded Prof. Obaid Siddiqi as its Director. He served as Director, NCBS between 1997 and 2013.
The Twitterati largely from the academia poured in congratulatory messages to Prof. VijayRaghavan soon after the news was broken on the social media by Prof. Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, who is also holding the additional charge as Secretary, DBT.
Later on, yesterday Prof. VijayRaghavan responded to the huge outpour of congratulatory messages on Twitter outlining the immediate goals and challenges.
The role of the Principal Scientific Adviser
The Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India was instantiated in November, 1999. The main responsibilities of this role, as mentioned in the instantiating order, include:
- Evolve policies, strategies and missions for the generation of innovations and support systems for multiple applications
- Generate science and technology tasks in critical infrastructure, economic and social sectors in partnership with Government departments, institutions and industry, and
- Function as the Secretariat to the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet, with the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India as its Chairman.
Given there are many scientific departments pertaining to well-defined domains, the role of Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India will be to initiate missions and projects that are beyond the realm of individual scientific departments. In achieving so, it is expected to create missions and projects cutting across departments and institutions, that are of strategic, technology and other areas of economic/social relevance. Essentially, it will lead and advise on strategic policies related to science and technology for the country that also encourages innovations across disciplines.
More details about the Office of PSA and its initiatives and interventions can be found here: http://psa.gov.in/.