Recently UNESCO Science Report has been released where it stated that, India’s investment in research remains unsatisfactory.
About UNESCO Science Report
- The gross domestic expenditure on research (GERD) has been stagnant at 0.7% of the GDP for years, although, in absolute terms, research expenditure has increased.
- India has one of the lowest GERD/GDP ratios among the BRICS nations.
- India’s research intensity has been declining since 2014. The Science and Technology Policy of 2003 fixed the threshold of devoting 2% of GDP to research and development (R&D) by 2007. This target date was set back to 2018 in the new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (2013) then again to 2022 by the Economic Advisory Council of the Prime Minister.
- In 2020, the task force drafting the country’s new Science and Technology Policy recommended pushing back the target date to a more realistic 2030.
- In 1990, the density of scientists/engineers engaged in R&D in India per 10,000 of the labour force stood at 10.
- It rose to just 11 in 2018, when it stood at 50 in China, 130 in Japan and 180 in South Korea.
- R&D in the government sector has been in steady decline since 2015, whereas the share of private business enterprises in it has shot up to 42%.
- Investment in R&D by foreign multinationals is on the rise, accounting for as much as 16% of private-sector investment in R&D in 2019.
- On the bright side is the encouraging increase in scientific publications by Indian researchers on cutting-edge technologies. Total publications have risen from 80,458 in 2011 to 1.61 lakh in 2019.
- Indian researchers are publishing between 1.5 and 1.8 times the global average on smart-grid technologies, photovoltaics, biofuels and biomass and wind turbine technologies, complementing the government’s push to expand green energy sources.
What are the Key Concerns?
- Patenting by domestic corporations, research institutes, universities and individuals remains low in India.
- Majority of the software-related patents were being bagged by MNCs operating from Indian soil, while pharma patents were obtained mostly by domestic firms.
- The report underscores the need for ‘policy bridges’ for developing a more effective interaction between foreign and local research firms.
- The report has also called for improved linkages between the start-up ecosystem and manufacturers. It will push technological development in sectors where India enjoys a global presence.
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