India has still not comprehended the need for scientific research as a trajectory for progress. Amongst the BRICS nation, India is at the bottom in terms of percentage of GDP spent on R&D. India’s spending has plateaued at 0.69 percent for last three years, while China, which is at the top spot among the BRICS nations, spends 2.05 percent of GDP towards research, followed by Brazil (1.24 per cent), Russia (1.19 per cent) and South Africa (0.74 per cent).
- Research spending increased from $40.2 billion in 2009-10 to $50.3 billion in 2014-15
- This is a increase of 20 percent
- Per capita R&D expenditure increased from $4.8 in 2004-05 to $10.8 in 2014-15.
The above figures are calculated on the basis of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP)
The Department of Science and Technology (DST) published a report, Research and Development At a Glance (GERD) 2017-18 reveals the following information in terms of funds released:
- India’s gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) has been steadily increasing over the years
- The increase has been from Rs.24,117 crore in 2004-05 to Rs. 85,326 crore in 2014-15
- For 2016-17, the estimated amount was Rs. 1,04,864 crore
- Private enterprises spent Rs. 43,995 crore, close to 42 per cent on R&D in 2016-17
- Central government agencies accounted for 47 per cent of GERD
- State governments and institutions of higher education shared the balance
- In 2014-15, India awarded 27,327 PhDs
- Out of the above figure, 15,426 were from science and technology streams
- India ranked third in terms of number of S&T PhDs, after China (30,017) and the US (26,520).
However, the fact remains that India’s spending on research, especially research pertaining to S&T remains pitifully low compared to the developed nations. Almost every developed nation set aside more than 2 percent of their GDP for scientific research, where India struggles to make it near 1 percent. Indian government should realize that economic development is not sustainable without research and development and larger share of GDP should be earmarked for it. As with current trend, India is going backwards in terms of allocating funds towards scientific research presaging a dangerous precedent. Sooner Indian policy makers realize this is better for the nation.