India’s Scientific Spending on research has been less than 1% of GDP for the past two decades. Each budget has done its best to disappoint Indian scientists with its unchanging allocation to scientific spending, often cutting spending to certain departments. Whenever budget proposals advised an increase in science, inflation would practically nullify any benefits. India’s scientific spending numbers are comparable to those of Ukraine and Mexico.
Indian scientists have fared well despite shortage of funds
Despite the unenthusiastic funding, Indian scientists have endeavoured admirably. India was ranked 13th globally according to a number of papers published in top journals. This was studied by a Nature Index report which presented a refreshing picture of Indian science showing a marked growth in high-quality scientific publication between 2012 and 2014 and revealed a particular strength in the broad discipline of chemistry.
Our scientists’ accomplishments are especially pronounced when it comes to space research (courtesy: ISRO).
While successive governments have promised to increase spending on research, it has remained at less than 1% of the GDP. India should become a hub for innovation and a global leader in research.
Why should the government invest in science?
Some people argue that governments cannot afford to spend too much on research in a country like India which has many problems like poverty, malnutrition, health care, and illiteracy.
That is a valid point. But, nobody is proposing that science spending should be increased to 10% or 20% of the GDP; a slight increase to even 2% will work wonders. Countries which are renowned for encouraging research – like South Korea, Japan, and Sweden – spend only around 3% to 4% of their GDP on research and development.
Furthermore, the progressive nature of a country can be determined by how much it spends on research and by how much it respects its scientists. A country which invests in science is a country which is guaranteed to become modern and developed.
- Research saves lives – new medicines and better medical treatments are possible only through scientific research. Take cancer as an example – thanks to research, survival rates have doubled since the 70s.
- An increase in research spending will inspire universities and colleges to encourage research on a local level; this will motivate Indian youth to take on research as a career choice. This will increase the pool of scientific talent in our country.
- It has been recognised around the world that an increase in science spending boosts the economy as a whole and increases productivity.
- An increase in science spending – to be fair, in any major department in general – will generate employment opportunities.
“There is a popular belief that basic science is driven purely by intellectual curiosity, without regard for practical applications, but for the most part, that’s wrong. Scientists want to solve important problems. In basic research, importance is defined by more than just an intellectual appeal; two other factors are also crucial: the potential impact of the result and the realistic possibility of a solution. Science is the art of the soluble, and well-trained, well-connected, and well-supported scientists working on the bleeding edge of our understanding are in a good position to recognise the most promising opportunities for progress.” – Michael White, Pacific Standard.