The Budget allocation for Science Ministries and Departments generally falls well short of the expectations raised by the Prime Minister’s speech at the Indian Science Congress in January 2012.
Allocation of funds for the science and technology sector in the Union Budget for 2012-13 presented in Parliament on Friday appears far from satisfactory, when one considers that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had only two months ago emphasised the need for a major increase in investment in research and development.
Inaugurating the 99 annual session of the Indian Science Congress on January 3, Dr. Singh had lamented that the current spending on R&D in the country was “too low and stagnant” at about one per cent of GDP and had a set a target of increasing it to at least two per cent of R&D by the end of the twelfth plan period.
However, the Budget allocation for Science Ministries and Departments generally falls well short of the expectations raised by the Prime Minister’s speech.
While the three Departments of Science and Technology, Scientific and Industrial Research and Biotechnology under the Ministry of Science and Technology have each got a hike of just about 10 per cent over the revised estimates or the actual expenditures during the current financial year, the Department of Atomic Energy has seen a hike of about 18 per cent.
However, the Department of Space and the Ministry of Earth Sciences, in charge of the India Meteorological Department and polar and ocean-related research and development respectively, have received a substantial increase at about 64 per cent and about 50 per cent.
Overall, the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the three departments under the Ministry of Science and Technology and the two autonomous Departments of Atomic Energy and Space put together have got an average hike of about 25 per cent.
But, the hike itself is only with regards to the revised estimates for them for the current year. The revised estimates are lower than the estimate given when the Budget was presented to Parliament in Feburary last.
If one were to compare the allocation being made for the coming year with original estimate for the current year, one sees that the increase is only around 8.5 per cent.
The Budget estimate for the coming year for the Department of Space is Rs. 5,615 crore, as against the Budget estimate of Rs. 5,700 crore and revised estimate of Rs. 3,432 crore for the current fiscal.
The corresponding figures for the Department of Atomic Energy is Rs. 11,673 crore, 10,012 crore and Rs. 9,895 crore, Ministry of Earth Sciences Rs. 1,281 crore, Rs. 1,220 crore and Rs. 855 crore, Department of Biotechnology 1,485crore, Rs. 1,400 crore and Rs. 1,350 crore, Department of Scientific and Industrial Research Rs. 2,013 crore, Rs. 1,930 crore and Rs. 1,830 crore and Department of Science and Technology Rs. 2,477 crore, Rs. 2,349 crore and Rs. 2,252 crore.