Promoting Science and Technology – Missions,Policies & Schemes

Open access is crucial for self-reliance in science


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Development of Science and Technology in India;

Why in the News?

As per Nature Index” India’s scientific prowess is rising but lacks essential research infrastructure. Initiatives like I-STEM aim to bridge this gap by democratizing access to advanced facilities.

The Indian Science Ecosystem:

  • Growth in Research: India ranks third globally in research output and eleventh in research quality according to the “Nature Index”.
  • Infrastructure Shortfalls: Despite an increase in the number of universities from 760 in 2014 to 1,113 in 2021, many lack essential resources such as advanced labs, instrumental access, and research literature.

Why is the Open Access Crucial for Self-Reliance in Science?

  • Open Access (OA) ensures that scientific knowledge is freely available to all, regardless of geographical or financial barriers.
  • It promotes inclusivity and allows researchers from diverse backgrounds to access the latest research findings, fostering collaboration and innovation.

Initiatives to Address Gaps:

  • I-STEM: Catalogues all publicly funded research facilities nationwide and makes them available to researchers based on need.
  • One Nation, One Subscription (ONOS): Proposes a centralized model of subscription to scientific journals to make them universally available to all publicly funded institutions, addressing the high cost of accessing commercial journals.

What is the Optimal Solution?

  • The optimal solution lies in prioritizing Open Access (OA) initiatives. With a global shift towards OA and increasing mandates from major funding bodies, India should leverage this trend to reduce dependency on costly subscriptions and ensure widespread access to scientific literature.
    • Major funding bodies and countries are pushing for OA, with the U.S. mandating immediate open accessibility of publicly funded research by 2025.
  • Challenges with ONOS: The high cost and oligopolistic academic publishing market make negotiation difficult. OA reduces the necessity of a costly unified subscription. ONOS does not ensure long-term access or global accessibility of Indian research.
  • The Green Open Access: Green Open Access allows authors to deposit a version of their work in a university repository, making it freely accessible globally. Ensures long-term preservation and accessibility of research funded by taxpayer money.


  • Indian funding agencies have mandated green OA, but it has not been enforced effectively.
  • Recent issues should catalyze a stronger push for green OA.

Conclusion: India should enhance its journal system, avoiding payment burdens on authors or readers. Utilise digital technology capabilities to create and share low-cost, high-quality scientific publishing infrastructure for the global south.

Mains PYQ:

India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) which has a database containing formatted information on more than 2 million medicinal formulations is proving a powerful weapon in the country’s fight against erroneous patents. Discuss the pro and cons of making the database available publicly available under open-source licensing. (UPSC IAS/2015)

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