Innovation Ecosystem in India

[op-ed snap] First, the basic sciences


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Issues related to low investment in the field of basic sciences(in India).


Are Indians investing enough in science, and how should this investment be apportioned?

  1. As per data provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, India invests about 0.8% of its GDP on research and development, and supports 156 researchers per million of population
  2. The figures for China are 2%, and 1,113, respectively. China’s investment is now comparable to any developed country, with Germany standing at 2.9% and 4,363 researchers and the U.S. at 2.8% and 4,231
  3. In 2000, China had invested only about 0.9% of its GDP on research and development, but this was steadily ramped up and in 2010 stood at 1.71%
  4. India invested 0.74% in 2000, and increased this to 0.82% in 2010. While China took it up to 2.1% in 2016, in India it came down to 0.63% in 2015
  5. These figures ignore the reality of what science has become in the last two decades

We can learn from the History

  1. The Raman effect, discovered by C.V. Raman, the only Indian Nobel Laureate in Physics, is a widely used tool of analysis in chemistry and physics
  2. It was discovered on February 28, 1928 with relatively meagre resources available in the labs set up by Raman

Today’s situation is somewhat different

  1. Today, while there is theoretical and even experimental work that can be done by small groups with a low budget
  2. But many pressing problems in science demand larger investments, including resources, funding and human capital

Difficulties in copying ISRO’s success

  1. The Indian Space Research Organisation has quietly and efficiently carried out large projects, but such projects have not been exactly welcomed in basic sciences
  2. Bigger projects involve coordination of the work of several hundred people and international collaborations; they need physical space and funding
  3. They challenge the mindset of doing science in isolation, within labs, and as unnoticed by society as possible

The way forward

  1. To develop a meaningful and scientific handle over impending crises, India needs to invest more widely and deeply in scientific enterprise
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