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Friday, July 28, 2017

Academics have criticized the Strategy of scientific development in Russia: many words, little meaning

The Ministry of education has prepared a draft Strategy for scientific and technological development of Russia in the long term, which is richly laced with foreign terms. As to the meaning and clear message, which should have such a Strategy, alas, most of the representatives of the scientific world did not see. Correspondent “MK” also delved into multi-page text and the first lines were extremely puzzled. First impression: this text is obviously written by a man from a comfortable distance. Judge for yourself – as a starting point he took the following postulates: “the quality of life of our population on the basic parameters is already close to the leading countries”, “Russia today is one of the world leaders in scientific and educational spheres” and “Russian research capacity is one of the most significant in the world,” especially “in terms of public investment and number of employees.” Everyone knows the schemer Ostap Bender rest…

photo: Gennady Cherkasov

The old English proverb says: there is just a lie, there are damned lies and there are statistics. Here with statistics and begin. According to Rosstat, in September 2015, the country’s 16.1 million people (11.2% of the total population of Russia lives below the poverty line, more than 25% of the economically active population of Russia has no formal employment (19.4 million of the 77 million people), 36% (55.6 per thousand) of all rural localities in Russia refers to the number of endangered (have a population of less than 10 people, either have no population at all). These are the parameters on which, presumably, quality of life closer to the leading countries.

In the opinion of the authors of the Strategy, special problems neither in the lives of Russians, nor in the development of science and technology in the country anymore, and for sustainable development of Russia”, it was only “to systematize the intellectual capacity” to provide due to a “balanced complement of natural, territorial resource capabilities of the country.” Well, for greater effect, you can raise the level of personalized medicine, to reduce inefficient use of human resources by developing “deserted technologies” (so they called robotics) and improved transport.

Moreover. If you believe the document we have already made the leap to a new stage of development scientific and technological system and even decided the objectives for improving research and development, and most importantly, improved working conditions and scientific workers have created the conditions for the commercialization of their intellectual activities.

It turns out that most of my friends researchers, heads of laboratories and Directors of academic institutions — blind people? Not see, not feel like they have become well?! And the same Rosstat, claiming that “topical research requests from businesses in the country do not exist” (September 2015), just blatantly lying?

To find out who actually was blind and deaf, I turned to the Vice-President of RAS, head of Information-analytical center “Nauka” Vladimir IVANOV.

– As we understand, this Strategy should be aimed at addressing the issues identified by the President in the national security Strategy of the country in December 2015 that defenses, improving the quality of life, placing the country in the independent leaders. All of these items require technological support. How to solve them? Need to run a full innovation cycle, consisting of a close relationship between fundamental and applied science and high-tech production. If applied science we still somehow represented in the state-owned corporations, with the first and third points we have a big problem. Three years have passed since the launch of the reform of the Academy, and so far no progress to speak of. On the contrary, we see the opposite picture: funding is shrinking, and will shrink the number of scientists is declining. If not its fundamental results, we will use other people’s. Give us them or not is the big question. If we remember the history of the atomic project, just in the USSR, work on it intensified when it became clear that in other countries this area is closed.

– According to the Strategy, by 2025 we will have already run their production.

– It is impossible, because, as I said, we have destroyed the first and most important link in the chain is basic science and there are no plans of a Strategy for its strengthening. Research system was built, as is done in all developed countries: USA, France, Germany. In the latter, for example, there are four scientific societies, the most famous of which the max Planck society. Is actually our the Russian Academy of Sciences in the pre-reform condition. In China, the Academy of Sciences is also similar to our previous system. We have no structure that would be responsible for the development of fundamental science, there is also no government Agency that would control the development of science and technology in General and would coordinate the action academic research institutes, universities and corporations.

– I think there officials from the Ministry of education and science argue with you.

Is the Ministry responsible for the sector. For example, medical research or atomic its field of influence fall. Wounds before the reform had an impact on all industries, but it, alas, is deprived of these powers.

According to Ivanov, one of the significant omissions is that in the main strategic project of Ministry of education of Russia in the long term do not offer a real mechanism of achievement of technological parity of the country to other countries.

– It is necessary that any, even the most unfavorable circumstances, our country could be independent from foreign technology. But it’s not there. And if not, then no sense at all of something else to say. There’s another Chapter about the main principles of our scientific-technological plan 2035 clearly stated dubious the item “Transparency and openness” in which, without any reservations and exceptions said that we should definitely open and all information on researchers, engineers, technological entrepreneurs and their findings. Then the question is: how will we ensure national security?

In General, if we have not set ourselves an ambitious goal to regain the technological lead and ready to go, as before, in the Wake of other countries, this strategy can be taken as proposed.

In addition to these major failures, as the absence of a plan for the removal of Russian science from the crisis and ensure the technological leadership, the document is replete with outright semantic mistakes. For example, in the first part stating, “a network of scientific and innovation infrastructure is formed, and in the end, the authors unexpectedly called for “the connectedness of the country.” So not all so is smooth in the Danish Kingdom? Here, in fairness it should be noted that the so-called “connectivity” was successfully destroyed by new reformers of the same Ministry of education, the reform of the Academy, when it was eliminated regional network of academic research centers…

But the remark about the establishment of 30 centers of excellence” that will have to be in the top world leaders, and all touches. Why the fuss if we have already been and still remains a lot of excellent research centres that require only support from the state? For example, VIAM (all-Russian Institute of aviation materials) or physics and power Institute in Obninsk.

Incidentally, the Russian Academy of Sciences at the time offered his version of the Strategy. It included, by and large, two distinct steps: first, “fire”, covers a short period, 5-7 years, during which the country had to implement the Program of import substitution”. During it it was necessary to provide the minimum necessary technological independence of the country. The second step deals with the big “a Program of re-industrialization” of Russia, according to which we must create a new knowledge-based industry based on its research and development. The program was held wide range of discussions on many sites, and FANO, and the concerned ministries and state corporations, and MSU is a special seminar and at the Higher school of Economics. Did a great job in the draft, there have been many additions. The Ministry of education but it seemed not to have noticed.

Hope for the triumph of common sense still remains. The strategy was posted for discussion on the website regulation.gov.ru and received a lot of criticism. Even the Ministry of education extended the term of the discussion. It ended on 20 July. As reported by “MK” in the Ministry, after about a week on the same resource, they will publish a summary of the proposals, after which will enter a modified version of the Strategy. Then we will see how sensitive to public opinion, our responsible for the science Ministry.

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