Science & Tech

Why is sustained funding important for India’s ‘Science Power’ ambition?

  • National Science Day is observed on February 28 each year to mark Sir CV Raman’s birth anniversary.

R&D Spending in India: The Current Situation

  • Low Expenditure: India’s expenditure on research and development (R&D) is 0.64% of GDP, which is problematic for a country seeking to technological improvement.
  • Stagnant Growth: Despite pledges to treble R&D spending, India’s allocation for fundamental research has fallen in recent years, emphasising the need for increased investment in scientific efforts.

Comparative Analysis with Developed Nations: 

  • Global Benchmarks. Developed countries typically spend 2-4% of their GDPs on R&D, in striking contrast to India’s modest spending.
  • Private Sector Contribution: In economically advanced countries, the private sector makes a considerable contribution to R&D investment, unlike in India, where public financing dominates.

Various challenges

  • Obstacles to private sector funding include regulatory uncertainty, weak review processes, and worries about intellectual property rights protection.
  • Underutilization Concerns: Despite funding allocations, the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science and Technology have inadequate utilisation rates.
  • Systemic issues include bureaucratic red tape, capacity restrictions, and project evaluation delays, which all contribute to underutilization and necessitate systemic adjustments.

Way forward

  • Budget Optimisation: Ensuring that allotted funds are used effectively is critical for maximising the impact of R&D investments and achieving targeted scientific achievements.
  • Political Commitment: Prioritising R&D investment and encouraging public-private partnerships necessitate coordinated actions at both the ministerial and fiscal levels.
  • Private Sector Engagement: Tax breaks and regulatory clarity can encourage private sector investment in R&D, hence enhancing sustainability.
  • Capacity Building: Improving bureaucratic capacity for project appraisal and monitoring is critical to achieving India’s goal of becoming a research powerhouse by 2047. 

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