At 0.7% of GDP, India’s R&D expenditure in science is less than BRIC nations

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The Indian government’s expenditure on scientific research and development has consistently increased over the years. Yet, the spending appears to be abysmally small when compared to some of the more developed, or even developing nations.

India’s National Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) in science and technology has increased from Rs 73,892.79 crore in 2012/13 to Rs 1,04,864 crore in 2016/17, the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, the Minister of Science and Technology, and the Minister of Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, told the Lok Sabha on Friday.  

“As per the latest available statistics, the National Gross Expenditure on Research and Development in Science and Technology sector during the years 2012-13 to 2014-15 was Rs 73,892.79 crore, Rs 79,355.89 crore and Rs 85,326.10 crore, respectively. It is estimated to be of the order of Rs 94,516.45 crore and Rs 1,04,864.03 crore for the years 2015-16 and 2016-17,” he said replying to a question.

However, GERD as percentage share of the Indian GDP hovers around 0.7 per cent. This is far lower compared to Israel (4.6 per cent), South Korea (4.5 per cent), Japan (3.2 per cent), Germany (3.0 per cent), USA (2.8 per cent), France (2.2 per cent), UK (1.7 per cent), and Canada (1.6 per cent). India’s spending is lower than that of BRIC nations. China spends 2.1 per cent, Brazil 1.3 per cent while Russia spends a bit over 1 per cent, the Minister told Lok Sabha.  

Vardhan pointed to a long list of steps the government has taken to boost GERD. Besides increase in plan allocations for scientific departments, the government is setting up new institutions for science education and research, he said. The government, he added, was also supporting mega facilities for basic research, launching new fellowships, providing substantial grants to potential scientists through extramural research funding, and has scaled up funding in the new areas of Clean Energy and Water – particularly in energy efficiency, clean coal technology, smart grids, methanol, desalination, genome engineering technology, national supercomputing mission, and in national mission on Interdisciplinary cyber physical system (ICPS), among others.

The Minister further said that an audit on research outcomes in various scientific departments and research organisations is being carried annually. “In addition, the compliance audit and performance audit are conducted at periodic intervals. Various scientific research schemes are also audited through a third party audit mechanism at mid-term and five yearly periods,” he told the Parliament.

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