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On Budget Allocation for the Ministry of Science and Technology

Context

The Union Ministry of Science and Technology will receive Rs 16,361 crore from the Center, which represents just 0.36 percent of the total Union Budget for 2022–23.

Relevance:

GS Paper-3: Indian Economy and issues relating to Planning, Mobilization of Resources; Government Budgeting; Science and Technology- Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life

Mains Question

What are the main issues with regard to India’s research and development. Also, offer solutions to these problems. (150 Words)


Important Points: 

  • The Ministry of Science and Technology’s funding allocation has seen a slight increase.
    • The funding for research and development is insufficient given inflation.
  • The National Research Foundation will receive Rs 2,000 crore from the Union Budget 2023–2034. (NRF).
    • The revised NRF allocation for 2022–2023 was just Rs. 1 lakh ($0.01 crore).

Figures: R&D funding in India

  • This year’s budget for the Ministry of Science and Technology is 16,361 crore, a 15% increase over the previous projection.
  • The Department of Science and Technology (DST), which received $7,931.05 crore, received the majority of the increase.
  • The Department of Biotechnology received 2,683.86 crore, while the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research received 5,746.51 crore (DSIR).
  • Significantly higher raises than in previous years were given to the National Research Foundation and the Deep Ocean mission, indicating that they are the Center’s current priorities.

Concerns with the Research & Development in India

  • There were several references in the Budget Speech to funding for dedicated centres for excellence in “Artificial intelligence” research, initiatives to scale up technology to produce laboratory-made diamonds, and a centre for research on sickle cell anaemia. However, there was less focus on basic research.
  • Despite the fact that all of these initiatives could be distributed among several government departments, none of the budgetary allocations indicate a significant expansion of basic research.
  • Technology cannot advance if basic science is not supported.
    • Low Research and Development Allocation
  • In general, developed and technologically advanced nations invest more than 2% of their GDP in R&D.
  • The World Bank claims that the allocation is insignificant in comparison to Korea’s allocation of 4.8% of GDP to science and technology.
  • Spending in the US is 3.45% and in China is 2.4%, respectively.
  • Despite being one of the top producers of scientific literature worldwide, India’s share of global innovation continues to be around 0.7% (according to the Global Innovation Index 2022).
  • As a result, just like previous administrations, this one has failed to push the proportion of GDP spent on research and development above 1%.
    • Limited Absorptive Capacity of Scientific Institutions o While lack of funding is not the only obstacle to research and development in India, the absence of significant departmental raises demonstrates that the country’s scientific institutions have a low capacity for absorption.
    • Unnecessary delay o Research scholars’ continued inability to receive promised funds on time and their ongoing struggle to obtain the high-quality equipment they need to conduct their work are two major challenges.
    • Lack of Interest in Research and Development o According to the All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE) report, less than 0.5% of Indian students pursue a PhD or a degree of a comparable level.
  • In terms of researchers per lakh of the population, the country currently lags far behind China, the US, and other much smaller countries like Israel.

Nation Research Foundation

  • About
  • The NRF is envisioned as an independent umbrella organisation that will strengthen connections between R&D, academia, and industry.
  • Over the course of five years, the National Research Foundation is proposing to spend a total of Rs 50,000 crore.
  • Key Details
  • The National Research Foundation (NRF) will finance, organise, and support national research.
  • The NRF will incorporate the research grants that are awarded by various ministries separately.
  • The NRF will make sure that the nation’s overall research ecosystem is strengthened, putting a special emphasis on areas that have been identified as being pertinent to our national priorities and toward basic science without duplicating effort and spending.
  • The NRF will incorporate the funds available to all ministries.
  • This would be sufficiently augmented by additional funding.

Way forward:

  • India has made significant advancements in science and technology, including the fields of defence and space.
  • But experts think that the budgetary support for science is insufficient.
  • The government continues to fund the majority of research, and private sector involvement has only gradually increased.
  • As a result, efforts to involve the private sector should be supported.
  • To make the best use of the funding available, the government must expand the funding pie and simplify the processes.

Conclusion

The establishment of scientific infrastructure and the allocation of a sizeable portion of the funds are necessary.


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