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Indian government to buy in tech for social good

Acquisition fund could start on farming tech next year

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The Indian government has revealed ambitious plans to set-up a Technology Acquisition Fund designed to facilitate the purchase of technologies from across the globe in order that they may be modified and commercialised domestically to benefit the whole of Indian society.

Renu Swarup, an advisor to the country’s science and technology ministry, told local news agency the Press Trust of India (PTI) during a trip to the US that the fund would probably launch next year.

"The purpose is to buy and acquire technologies either nationally or globally. And these would be technologies for public good,” she said.

“Wherever there is technology which is already available, having affordable product development, we do not really need to reinvent the wheel, bring in those technologies and these would be then bought by the government and made available to a consortium of industries.”

Shipping in fully-formed technologies would be more cost-effective in many cases than having home-grown scientists work on developing products and services with similar capabilities, she reportedly argued.

“At the moment we do not even have a database of the available technologies. We haven't done sufficient technology mapping at the moment,” Swarup told the PTI.

“Once we do that mapping, only then we can actually take a decision on what this technology fund would be or what its size would be. We haven't earmarked any specific budget as of now."

Like China, India has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, driven by a massive population and a growing middle class.

However, huge social and economic inequalities remain in the sub-continent. The most recent national census poll, for example, found that more Indian households have a mobile phone than an indoor toilet.

The same poll reported that around a third of households are still lit by kerosene lamps and nearly half have mud floors.

If established, the acquisition fund is likely to put at least some of its focus on developing technology in the agricultural sector, the report suggested. ®

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