Some years back, there was a visitor to the Indian Institute of Science. He showed a micrograph, and while explaining it, he pointed to some feature, and said “Some years back, we used to call this a particle. Now we call it a nanoparticle”. Such self deprecations and talks-aimed-at-funding agencies aside, the aspects of nanoscience that are technologically important seem to be military and medical applications; in materials science and engineering, most of the nanoscience problems are training grounds for researchers than potential applications.

A recent article from Frontline titled Token gesture claims that

The government and industry have not given enough attention to nanoscience, at the peril of losing out in the technological race.

Is that true? To some extent, yes. So, what needs to be done? My opinion (which is slighly maverick, and is different from what the article seems to suggest) is this: Defence organisations should fund nano research with specific goals and end results. The funding for universities and educational institutions should be for basic research in nanoscience — on that count, we probably are doing well. Comparing ourselves with China and asking for more funding from the government for nano research is not a good idea — Industry should (and, should be encouraged to) fund nano research, since, industrial funding would make sure that (a) the research results in technology, and (b) non-competitive technologies are not funded. If the industry does not fund nano science projects, government funding the same does not make sense.