India’s Research Framework

January 30, 2018
12 months

What is the issue?

  • India’s significance is rising on the world science research stage but it is also facing issues that is undermining the research ecosystem.

What are the positives?

  • UNESCO Science Report 2015 has pointed out that India has become a hub for low cost innovation.
  • India has continued building its capacity in low cost engineering.
  • Such an approach has helped in making products affordable to the masses and has also enhanced its export profile.
  • It progress encompasses various domains like - space technology, pharmaceuticals and IT and more recently, aviation parts.  
  • Global Patent Share – India stood 7th in terms of the number of patents filed by residents and non-residents domestically.
  • The top 6 countries are China, US, Japan, South Korea, EU, Germany.
  • But notably, patents have grown much faster with income in countries like China, Korea, and Japan.
  • Scientific publications - It has  been growing at an impressive 10%.
  • In terms of scientific output per dollar spent on research puts India on par with the best in the world.
  • This suggests that India is an innovation hub, at least in pharmaceuticals, computer software and automobiles, where the private sector is in lead.

What are the concerns?

  • The Indian share in the number of patents sealed in India has fallen from 40% in 2001-02 to 15% in 2015-16.
  • Meanwhile, the number of patents granted by the US Patent Office to Indian applicants has been on the rise, most of them being MNCs.
  • The surge in FDI and R&D activity has led to MNCs accounting for over 80% of patents issued to Indians by the US patents office.
  • This raises questions whether FDI has led to technology assimilation in India, something that China managed to ensure over the last three decades.
  • On technology transfer, there is a lack of coordination between science and technology policy and the Make in India policy.

How has the funding been for R&D?

  • Central and state governments together set aside Rs. 56,000 crore towards R&D in 2016-17, while the private sector spent about Rs. 43,000 crore.
  • While the private sector seems to have a clear roadmap for the researches it undertakes, the state needs better targeting for its work.
  • Indigenous technology development has been sparse except in strategic areas such as space, atomic energy and missiles.
  • Electronics import which accounts for above $40 billion annually is a measure of a lack of technological self-sufficiency.
  • The amount spent as a % of GDP in R&D fell to just 0.69% in 2016-17.
  • India produced only 15,300 PhDs in science, engineering and medicine fields which is only one-fifth of what china and US did.
  • There is contestations that fellowship stipend is also being cut, which dissuades researchers apart from starving critical projects off funds.
  • Another issue is the unduly prioritising certain niche domains like traditional medicine over other domains of research.

What is the weakness in our education sector?

  • Quality of research has to catch up with ideas that relate to larger issues in science or society, which has proven difficult.
  • The difficulty is primarily due to the weaknesses in our educational framework, which is more accentuated in the science stream.
  • The university system is in near collapse, due to the dismal state of humanities, and with it the lack of the crucial inter-disciplinary ambience.
  • Compartmentalisation - A considerable partition is emerging in research and teaching, with research being considered superior, which is affecting both.
  • As teaching has largely come to be perceived as a distraction to research, there has been a constant push of talent out of classrooms.
  • These attitudes, along with the fact that large grants has been flowing to projects that promise technological outcomes, basic research has suffered.  
  • Government has constituted “Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research” (IISERs) for reviving an inter-disciplinary approach.
  • But, this is largely a half hearted effort, as higher education accounts for just 4% of public R&D spending.


Source: Business Line



Login or Register to Post Comments
There are no reviews yet. Be the first one to review.
UPSC Admissions 2019