In the budget 2021-2022, the central government announced an institution to strengthen the research and development ecosystem in India. The name of this organization is National Research Foundation. The government said that 10 thousand crore rupees will be allocated to this institution every year. It was also hoped that this would bring revolutionary changes in the field of ‘research and development’ in India. If we talk about the structure of this institution, then it will be autonomous in nature and there will be minimum administrative intervention. Thousands of institutions engaged in the process of research and development will be included in its jurisdiction.
In the new budget 2022-2023 presented a year after this announcement, the government neither talked about the progress of this institution nor allocated any funds to it. Not only this, in this year’s budget allocation, the budget of the Ministry of Science and Technology was also reduced by 3.9 percent. In this year’s budget, only Rs 14,217 crore was allocated to the Ministry of Science and Technology. According to the increasing number of researchers in India, this figure of the budget seems to be less.
Even more of these funds are available only from 2-3 Indian research institutions. The Defense Research and Development Organization, Department of Atomic Energy and Space alone carry 30-40 per cent of the budget allocated to the Ministry of Science and Technology. The remaining part of the budget goes to a large group of institutions, in which Indian Council of Agriculture and Research, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medical Research etc. are prominent. However, the research of these institutions is highly valued and they have contributed significantly to the scientific, economic and social development of the country.
If we talk about the total money spent on research in India, then it is 0.6-0.8 percent of GDP, which is very less than developed countries. India accounts for only 1-3 per cent of global research. While the United States has a 25 percent share in world research, China also holds a large share of 23 percent. The World Bank had released data related to the number of researchers in proportion to the population of any country.
According to these figures, there are 423 researchers per one lakh population in China, while in America this figure is 111. If I talk about India, there are 15 researchers per one lakh population. Despite this, if the government is reducing the allocation of the budget in this item, then it is a very thought-provoking thing. If India spends less than one percent of its GDP on research, how will it become a global superpower?
Today India has such a strong startup ecosystem. We rank third in the world in terms of number of startups. The number of unicorn companies here is continuously increasing. In such a situation, the government should allocate more funds for research.
If the research ecology in India is to be made more strong, then for this the government will have to take the help of the private sector as well. In developed countries, the private sector spends a lot of money on research. In America, companies like Tesla, SpaceX, Blue Origin etc. invest a lot on research and development. Apart from this, the Government of India will also have to bring continuity in its policies in this regard.
The government announces an organization for the development of research, but does not pay attention to the proper implementation of that organization. It is not that there are no more institutions in this direction in India. If sufficient powers and autonomy are given to the Science and Engineering Research Board itself, then they too can revolutionize the research ecology of India. This organization has also contributed a lot in this direction.
We often compare ourselves with China and discuss its development model. We can learn from China how the foundation of economic growth is laid by developing a strong research and research ecosystem in our country. However, it is a matter of debate whether China’s development is inclusive or not? But it is certainly true that China has created a favorable research ecosystem by investing enough capital in the development of research.
India already has a lot of policies regarding the development of research. Therefore, there is a need now that there should be proper coordination between these policies. Along with this, if there are different policies for the development of the same area, then they should also be consolidated. This will also reduce administrative complexity and bring uniformity in the development of a particular area.