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US can lose tech edge to India, if. . .
Agencies | October 13, 2005 14:35 IST
The United States' top advisory panel has warned that the US is fast losing its edge in science and needs urgent, extensive efforts to strengthen its scientific competitiveness, says a New York Times report.
A 20-member panel of experts convened by the National Academies has listed 20 steps that the US needs to take to maintain its dominant position in science and technology, said the paper.
The panel said that India and China are emerging as real hi-tech centres that can challenge the US hegemony in the field of technology.
The reasons cited for this were that they "have sacrifice and talent, there's a strong value of creativity, and local governments directly and indirectly help financing of technological activity and companies. Capital is available for technology, and there is awareness of the change in the global IT food chain. It cited many examples of emerging scientific and industrial power abroad and listed 20 steps the United States should take to maintain its global lead.
Pointing towards the erosion in the nation's scientific prowess, the panel said that other nations are gathering strength.
The underlying goal, the panel said, is to create high-quality jobs by developing new industries and new sources of energy based on the bright ideas of scientists and engineers.
"Thanks to globalisation," the panel's report said, "workers in virtually every sector must now face competitors who live just a mouse-click away in India, China, Ireland, Finland or dozens of other nations whose economies are growing."
At a news conference in Washington, panel members estimated the cost of the new recommendations at $10 billion a year, a figure that may prove daunting to Congress in a time of tight budgets, said the NYT.
The unmatched vitality of the United States' economy and science and technology enterprise has made this country a world leader for decades, allowing Americans to benefit from a high standard of living and national security. But in a world where advanced knowledge is widespread and low-cost labor is readily available, US advantages in the marketplace and in science and technology have begun to erode.
A comprehensive and coordinated federal effort is urgently needed to bolster US competitiveness and pre-eminence in these areas so that the nation will consistently gain from the opportunities offered by rapid globalization, says a new report from the National Academies.
The panel said these are some indicators that illustrate why decisive action is needed now:
The congressionally requested report -- written by a 20-member committee that included university presidents, CEOs, Nobel Prize winners, and former presidential appointees -- makes four recommendations, along with 20 implementation actions, that federal policy-makers should take to create high-quality jobs and focus new science and technology efforts on meeting the US' need for clean, affordable, and reliable energy.
Some actions will involve changing existing laws, while others will require financial support that would come from reallocating existing budgets or increasing them. The committee believes that ongoing evaluation of the results should be included in all of the measures.
"America must act now to preserve its strategic and economic security by capitalizing on its knowledge-based resources, particularly in science and technology, and maintaining the most fertile environment for new and revitalized industries that create well-paying jobs," said committee chair Norman R Augustine, retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md.
"The building blocks of our economic leadership are wearing away. The challenges that America faces are immense."
A brief overview of the four recommendations follows, with a sample of proposed actions to implement them.
10,000 teachers, 10 million minds
After graduation, they would be required to work for at least five years in public schools. Participants who teach in disadvantaged inner-city or rural areas would receive a $10,000 annual bonus. Each of the 10,000 teachers would serve about 1,000 students over the course of a teaching career, having an impact on 10 million minds, the report says.
Sowing the seeds
Best and the brightest
If these students then receive job offers from employers that are based in the United States and pass a security screening test, they should automatically get work permits and expedited residence status. If they cannot obtain employment within one year, their visas should expire.
Incentives for innovation
The study was sponsored by the National Academies, which comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.
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