Can the Budget Save the R&D?

Yet another Union Budget is going to be launched this February 28th, 2008. One of the major highlight’s of the budget is the fact that it is the last budget the UPA government presents before the general elections of 2009. Hence, we expect a people friendly budget this year which aims at enriching the vote bank.

I hope that this year the budget allocates special funds for higher education, especially in the research and development section. India, as we know is a developing nation. For such a nation, better science and technology development is not a luxury, but an absolute necessity to participate in the world’s fast forming, knowledge-based economy. In order that our country keeps pace with the developed world, India has to step up the number of research and development workers and increase scientific effort many fold.

It was often said that if China is the factory of the world, then India is the laboratory of the world. But the ground reality is that except for some significant contributions in the software sector we have not done much research and development in other fields.

As per the statistics from the Science Citation Index (SCI) – in 1973, India was the eighth largest publishing nation in the world after USA, UK, USSR, Federal Republic of Germany, France, Japan and Canada with 7888 published research papers. In 2000 we had slid from the eighth position to 15th. Currently we are at the 21st position in terms of published research papers! In fact, if we see the statistics, in terms of quality of our research papers, India stands at 119 out of 149 countries! We have 17% of the world’s population and our contribution in terms of the world’s R&D is a meager 1.58%!

As per the Department of Science and Technology, India spends 1% of its GDP on research and development works. In fact, India’s expenditure on R&D of GDP is lower compared to that in the developed countries and a few developing countries like Brazil and China. If we compare our country with China, we see that China contributes to at least 8 – 10 % of the world’s research.

The performance of in-house R&D centres of major Indian institutes indicates that there is a need for forging, strong linkages between the in-house R&D centres and the national laboratories and technical institutes in order to attain technological competence in the industrial sector.

Our country is not lacking in the scientific skill but in scientific spirit, as of now. It is absolutely essential that the centre pays attention to the R&D sector as soon as possible so that we can maintain a strong foothold in the world research. After all, only with active research will we be able to solve the problems of employment in the industrial sector of fields like biotechnology, pharmacy, genetic engineering, bio – informatics and others.

Aayushi Uberoi