Nation-Building and the Governance of Emerging Technologies: the Case of Nanotechnology in India

NanoEthics 13 (1):5-19 (2019)
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Abstract

Emerging technologies like nanotechnologies are governed in different ways around the world. This article draws attention to an important element that can help to explain the emergence of this diversity in governance practices: the role of nanotechnology in nation-building. By investigating the relation between nanotechnology and the nation in India, the article demonstrates that various particularities of the Indian governance of nanotechnology can be explained by the relation between science, technology, and nation-building. The article discusses four instances in which the governance of nanotechnology in India is informed by the role science and technology has in nation-building: the historical image of India as a country that can attain modernity and development by engaging with modern science and technology supported the government’s decision to free funds for nanotechnology research; the view of India as a country that cannot rely on foreign assistance to get access to the latest technologies reinforced the strategy to pro-actively pursue nanotechnology research and development itself; the historical use of science and technology as crucial elements in overcoming deeply rooted societal divisions enabled the science-centered way in which nanotechnology was governed; and the Indian ambition to become a global superpower informed the governance of nanotechnology as an object of international competition. The governance of nanotechnology in turn defines ‘Indianness’ in a post-liberalization world.

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