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India now spends more than 1 lakh crore a year on research

Sunderarajan Padmanabhan | Updated on: 16 January 2018, 17:36 IST
(Pallava Bagla/Corbis via Getty Images)

Gross expenditure on research and development (GERD) in India more than tripled in the decade up to 2014-15, according to a national survey on the status of R&D. The trend seems to be carrying on and annual expense is now over Rs 1 lakh crore.

The boost is powered mostly by state expenditure, shows the survey conducted by the National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) under the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The Centre accounted for 45.1% while state governments chipped in with 7.4%, public sector industries spent 5.5 % and higher education institutions 3.9%. The private sector accounted for the remaining 38.1%.

Per capita R&D expenditure jumped to Rs 659 ($10.8) in 2014-15 from Rs 217 in 2004-05. In total terms that would be Rs 85,326 crore from Rs 24,117 crore. The figure is estimated to have increased to Rs 94,516 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 1,04,864 crore in 2016-17.

Significantly, the share of business enterprises – both public and private – has been showing an increasing trend. Their share of 43.6% in 2014-15 was found to be fairly higher than the situation in just five years earlier: in 2009-10 their share was just 34.2%. The study has revealed that public sector R&D was led by defense-related industries and fuel industry, while the private sector R&D was dominated by drug and pharmaceuticals and transportation.

However, the composition of R&D expenditure in India contrasted sharply when compared with select developed and emerging economies. The survey compared the levels of participation of the government, business enterprises, and institutions of higher education in R&D in India with those in 13 other countries – the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Korea, Mexico, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, China, Canada and Australia.

It found that India topped the list with regard to the government’s participation in R&D but hit the bottom in terms of participation of institutions of higher education. Government’s participation in R&D in the other countries ranged from seven percent in U.K. to 38% in Mexico, as against India’s 55%. In contrast, the share of institutions of higher education in R&D in the other countries varied from 7% in China to 40% in Canada, as compared to India’s a mere 4%.

Another significant finding of the survey is that as much as 81.3% of R&D expenditures incurred by central government sources came from just eight major scientific agencies : Defence Research and Development Organisation led the table with a share of 37.8%, followed by Department of Space (16.6%), Department of Atomic Energy (11.6%), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (11.4%), Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (9.5%), Department of Science and Technology (7.7%), Department of Biotechnology (2.9%) and Indian Council of Medical Research (2.4%) during 2014-15.

Further, it has shown that women’s participation in extra-mural R&D projects has increased significantly from a mere 13% in 2000-01 to 29% in 2014-15. In absolute numbers, 1.301 women Principal Investigators had availed extramural R&D support during 2014-15 as against just 232 in 2000-01. In terms of personnel directly engaged in R&D activities, there were 39,388 women (13.9%) as on April 1, 2015, out of the total 2.82 lakh personnel. It has also revealed that out of the total of 27, 327 doctorates awarded in the country, 15,246 or 56.4% were from the S&T disciplines during 2014-15. India occupied the third rank in terms of PhDs awarded in S&T after China (30,017) and USA (26,520).

The number of researchers per million population in India has more than doubled from 110 in 2000 to 218 in 2015 and India’s R&D expenditure per researcher was as much as 1,78,000 in terms of ‘purchase parity price on dollar basis’. This was higher than that of Russia, Canada, Israel, Hungary, Spain, and the UK.

Besides, it has found that extramural R&D support by Central Government agencies has increased from 1,358 crore in 2009-10 to 2,002 crore in 2014-15. Its share in the national gross expenditure on R&D was 2.3% during 2014-15. The Department of Science and Technology and Department of Biotechnology were the two major players contributing nearly 66.4% of the extramural R&D support in the country. The academic sector received 58% of the total extramural R&D support during 2014-15.

The survey, among other things, has pointed out that while India spent 0.69% of its GDP on R&D in 2014-15, Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa in the BRICS grouping spent 1.24%, 1.19%, 2.05% and 0.73% respectively. The ratio was less than 0.5% for Pakistan and Sri Lanka, at 0.29% and 0.1% respectively.

It has also highlighted that India’s scientific publication output has shown a rising trend during the past decade with the database of SCOPUS showing that research output from India has increased by 68% from 62,955 in 2009 to 106,065 in 2013 and the database of SCI showing an increase of 31.5% from 39,672 in 2009 to 52,165 in 2015.

SCOPUS and SCI, the survey noted, have put the growth rate of scientific publications at 13.9% and 7.1% for the period from 2009-13, as against the world average of 4.4% and 4.1% respectively. Also, as per SCI database, India’s share in global research publications had increased from 2.2% in 2000 to 3.7% in 2013 and as per SCOPUS database, it has gone from 3.1% in 2009 to 4.4% in 2013. SCOPUS database ranked India sixth in the world in scientific publications ahead of France, Spain, and Italy during 2013, it pointed out.

On patents, the survey has noted that a total of 46,904 patents were filed during 2015-16 and of them, 28% or 13,066 were filed by Indian residents. As per WIPO report 2016, India is ranked 10th in terms of resident patent filing activity.


Edited by Joyjeet Das

First published: 16 January 2018, 17:36 IST