Dr. Naveen Kumar : A space program that has enabled satellite launches and Mars/moon mission, green revolution for self-sufficiency in food grain production, indigenously developed missiles and aircraft and exports in pharmaceuticals and information-technology services are some of the India’s notable success in science and technology after independence in 1947. However, during recent years there has been a growing realization among scholars, policy-makers and other observers that India lags behind other key countries and some of its BRICS (Brazial, Russia, India, China and South Africa) partners in research investment and output. While the credit for most of the scientific discoveries that took place during last century goes to Europe and America, India has also made a significant progress to improve the research quality particularly after launching Science and Technology Policy by Vajpayee Government in 2003, the major objective of which was to integrate programmes of socio-economic sectors with the national R&D system to address national problems as well as creating a national innovation system to bring science and technology together. The current Modi Government has taken some key initiative to facilitate investment and boost R&D. In this regard a Make in India programme has recently started which has generated positive response from all over the globe. The key labor law reform under pipeline will boost manufacturing industry and foreign investment in India. Likewise, in January 2015, Modi Government formed National Institution of Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, a policy think-tank of Government of India that replaced the Planning Commission which is believed to cause policy paralysis in the past. NITI Aayog is headed by the prime Minister and, like US think-tanks, its members include top economists, consultants and advisers. The initiatives have been taken for promoting inter-disciplinary research including traditional Indian knowledge, prioritizing critical R&D areas like agriculture, health and drug discovery, telecommunications, and environment and climate variability and change.
Global investments in science, technology and innovation are estimated at $1.2 trillion as of 2009. Currently India is investing $ 36.1 billion USD which is 0.9% of GDP and stand at 8th position after Unites States (2.7%), China (2.08%), Japan (3.67%), Germany (2.3%), South Korea (4.36%), France (1.9%) and United Kingdom (1.7%). India’s present global share of scientific publications is about 3.5% and ranks 9th in the world with respect to scientific publications in science citation index (SCI) journals whereas USA stand first with 40% share followed by UK, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Australia and Israel. Digital India and e-Governance initiatives taken by Modi Government could vie for a share of more than 5% within the next five years.
Research potential ultimately rests in quantity and quality of human resource. Despite increasing numbers of researchers, the share of world’s researcher in USA, European Union (EU) and India has slightly fall during 2002-2007 (23.1% versus 20% in USA, 20.6% versus 20.1% in EU, 2.3% versus 2.2% in India). However, China has increased its share from 13.9% to 19.7%. Since China and India are two large and growing populations, their percentage share of the world’s researchers, as their economic development, should, in principle be increase. In terms of researchers per million inhabitants, it is evident that a substantial gap exists between India and other key countries (4663.3, 2936.4, 1070.9, 136.9 researchers per million inhabitants respectively in USA, EU, China, India).
Slow bureaucracy has been found to significantly affect R&D outputs in India. However, the impact of digital India and e-Governance initiatives taken by the Prime Minister Modi has already been realized. An important problem paradoxically for the second-most populous country on earth is the lack of quality human resources. The availability of qualified researchers has not kept pace with the increased funding. Moreover, the recruitment/evaluation process of the faculty needs to be improved. Organizations such as Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) that started adopting international standards (quality research publications rather than administrative or institute building activities) in faculty recruitment have tremendously increased their research productivity, such approach needs to be followed by other research organizations/Universities. The funding agencies also need to follow more realistic approach in distributing research grants which may include more critical evaluation of the research proposal and if possible may include external reviewer to avoid repetition of the research being carried out in the West. Finally it’s more of the Scientist’s responsibility to put their extra efforts for the national pride. India gained its glory in the ancient times due to a teacher “Chankya (350-275 BCE)”. To take the country at ultimate splendor and to regain the status of golden bird, the teachers and scientists have to play an important role.