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India set to become the global knowledge hub

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The country has conducted a test flight of Saras, an indigenously developed civilian light-transport aircraft, developed by the state-run Center for Civil Aircraft Design and Development.

According to the Department of Biotechnology, 165 institutions in the country are engaged in genetic engineering research - 55 in transgenic work, 25 in therapeutics and 85 in basic research.

India has started commercial cultivation of genetically modified cotton in the western state of Gujarat and some southern states, with several other crops in various stages of getting approvals for commercial plantation.

In stem cell research, the US Department of Health wants to fund two Indian institutions - Reliance Life Sciences, backed by the country's largest private sector group, and the Bangalore-based National Center for Biological Sciences.

India is the only country from the developing world and the sixth globally to fabricate and launch its own satellites in geo-stationary orbit, with even has plans for a moon mission in 2010.

Even in the field of collaborative research, some new trends are emerging.

India's largest software company, Tata Consultancy Services, for example, has collaboration with the Carnegie Mellon University to investigate emerging trends in economics, management and technology for the software industry.

The Bangalore-based biotech company Biocon, like other home-grown pharma majors Ranbaxy and Dr. Reddy's, is attracting attention from companies in the US and Europe, which are seeking a strong platform for development skills.

"India needs to break away from imitative to more inventive R&D to realize the potential of its innovative skill base. This is where the Silicon Valley scored," says Biocon founder Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.

"But it is heartening that Bangalore and Hyderabad are seeing the emergence of scientist-entrepreneurs. We need to see many more," says Shaw, who b
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