Keeping in view the importance of Science and Technology in human development, impact of scientific change on society and its governance, a new division, Science and Society Division (SSD) was carved out of Science and Technology Programme (STP) Division in June 1985 to provide greater autonomy to promote multidisciplinary approaches for societal development. The SSD Division initially promoted three schemes, namely, Science and Technology Applications for Rural Development (STARD), Science and Technology for Women and Science and Technology Applications for Weaker Sections (STAWS). TARA scheme was a part of STARD and evolved as Strengthening, Upscaling and Nurturing Innovations for Livelihood (SUNIL) programme in 2022, whereas SCSP and TSP programmes were part of STAWS. S&T for Women is the oldest Scheme (1982), whereas TSP and Special Component Plan (SCP) were initiated during 1991-92 and 1992-93, respectively. The Division has initiated several activities for women empowerment through S&T interventions like establishment of Women Technology Parks (1993), constitution of National Awards for Women’s Development through Science and Technology (2000), Fellowship Scheme for Women Scientists-WOS B (2003), introduction of Gender Budgeting (2005) and National Training Programme for Women Scientists (2008). Young Professional and Scientists in Societal Programme was initiated in 1991 to attract young scientists work towards S&T solutions for societal development. The said programme was renamed as SYST programme and was revamped during 2015 and during 2019
Recognizing the importance of Equity and Empowerment in the developmental processes, Science and Society Division was renamed as Science for Equity Empowerment and Development (SEED) Division in 2009. In this process and for wider outreach of the programmes for addressing societal needs in different geographical regions, like desert and mountain areas, several network programmes like ASAR, CODER, SARTHI & TIME-LEARN were initiated during 2009-10 and implemented in a phased manner involving academic and field-based NGOs in consortium mode for translational research and delivery of technologies at scale in the field. The important initiative is the launch of Technology Interventions for Elderly (TIE) programme in 2005 which was renamed as Technology Interventions for Disabled and Elderly in 2011 to find technologically feasible and economically viable STI solutions for empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (PwDs). A new programme ‘Science Technology and Innovation (STI) Hubs’ was initiated in 2019 for development of SC & ST Communities through systemic interventions to address the weakest linkages in the predominant livelihood systems through S&T interventions, creation of social enterprises based on the strongest aspects of livelihood systems and harnessing Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) through inputs of S&T. SC and ST Cells are also being established in various Sate S&T Councils to map and identify location specific needs/gaps of SC and ST Communities and their requirement for formulation of strategies for their holistic development through STI inputs.
With the experience of formulating programmes addressing the national priorities and strengthening need-based scientific knowledge, technology and delivery system for disadvantaged sections of the society, the Division is ideally placed to empower the society for inclusive development in sustainable manner and could be an important S&T based national driver in addressing the requirements of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).