This refers to the article “Paralysis in science policies” (Feb. 7). With the objective of making education affordable, it is a fact that there has been an overall decline in academic quality. Balancing this is tough as most chief administrators are political appointees who look at ways to please their masters rather than taking the institution on the path of scientific progress. Research requires a fair amount of independent thinking and implementation. There is no dearth of native talent and knowledge. The problem is of recognition and encouragement. Finally, there has to be an enabling mechanism in the form of proactive training and retraining on modern methods of conducting research and providing research funding.
In countries that have a strong science and technology base, the proportion of private-to-government spending in research and development is 80:20. In India, it is just almost the other way round and it has remained so for years. In today’s world, carrying out scientific experiments is expensive. Unless industry comes forward it is difficult for the government to bear such a massive expenditure alone. To say that the government will only match private R&D investment to bring it to the level of 2 per cent of GDP is unrealistic.
The word innovation should be dropped from the Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, 2013. Loud campaigning for “innovation” only pushes science research (especially basic science) to the back, encouraging the import of technology.
Concern over our continuing poor performance in basic research has been expressed in no uncertain terms by doyens of Indian scientific research. If India has to prove its world-class innovative prowess, there is no alternative other than attaining excellence in basic research. Allocation of greater government funding for research and installing an effective mechanism to make industries fall in line to reverse the ratio to 80:20 in favour of the private sector, are two two imperatives.
Keywords: research in higher education, scientific research in India, science policy, research budget allocation, policy paralysis, gross domestic expenditure on research and development, Science Technology and Innovation Policy 2013, STIP 2013, Indian scientific innovations, Indian Science Congress