The role of S&T human resources in innovation and in the economic growth of a country cannot be disputed. Skilled and educated, innovative and creative people remain the most important engine of growth. This assumes greater importance for India, with the world’s largest number of young to be educated and where knowledge-economy is being considered fundamental to the path of progress or the key to economic growth. S&T manpower includes artisans, technicians and technologists, researchers, educators, and managers. In addition, many others use their skills in a variety of nominally non-S&T occupations (such as writers, salesmen, financial managers, and legal consultants), and many niches in the human resource market require them to interpret and use the S&T knowledge. Two dimensions of human resources remain crucial: quantity and quality. Most importantly, what policies and institutions could induct ever larger numbers of people into the fold of S&T happens to be the cardinal issue.
A very large number of potentially school-going children, demands near astronomical expansion of educational capacity right from pre-school level to doctorate level. At present the proportion of school-goers finally finishing higher education and in particular doctorates is astonishingly small. Capacity creation remains therefore the key policy imperative. With only a very large number of educated persons can this country can take to the path of knowledge based growth. This implies that the quality of education must remain at least modestly high and also contemporary. A moot question would then be what mode of accretion of capacity engenders quality; could these two dimensions be woven together! Further, the advanced society of the future would require advanced and contemporary knowledge. Mere addition to the stock might not meet the expectations of the future unless quality is hastened and contemporaneity gets ensured. Given the fact of longer expected lifespan, the country’s policies on education must also look into the dynamic capability of social and production systems to keep engaged meaningfully a person for no less than five decades. Our current policies take care of only the first two and a half decades of the life of a person.
There is a shortage of S&T staff, in India. There is also a decline in the number of students opting science as career at higher secondary schooling, college and higher education levels. Shortage has multiple dimensions: gap in quantity that is serious; gap between demands and supply of skill types; gaps in quality; gaps existing in continuous learning including on-the-job; gaps in social institutions that can monitor and redirect schooling at all levels; and of course gaps created through outflow or cross-sector flows of the skilled and educated.
This theme starts with a description of Indian state-of-affairs, underpinning generation of human resources, through the enrolment pattern at different educational levels. This reflects upon the structural and institutional capacity. The subsequent discussion on vocational education looks at the structure of vocational studies in India, the premier institutes imparting training and new initiatives in the 11th Five year plan. Thereafter the description is on educational infrastructure, highlighting the distribution across states. Then students’ performance in sciences at secondary/higher secondary levels is analyzed. Private investment in the education sector in the post 90’s has resulted in a number of private educational institutions; however, the quality of education might not have improved. The following parts look into interstate (secondary level) and international migration of students respectively. The next discussion looks into measures to promote basic science. It analyses the functioning of some schemes implemented by the government to promote basic science. Subsequently, higher education and research training in S&T areas has been captured through data on the production of doctorates. Subsequently an overview of generation of medical manpower in India and then on gender dimensions, in recognition of the role gender plays in shaping scientific careers in India, have been discussed.