Time to Think Beyond Lines & Limitations

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Such a proud moment has come for India, to receive the Nobel Peace Prize! The whole world is celebrating this win. Our heartiest congratulation to both Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai for their commendable work and achievement.

But look at the irony; since 1947, not a single resident Indian has been awarded the Nobel in the stream of scientific discovery, despite India’s successes in space, astronomy, pharmaceuticals and the worldwide reputation of its USD100-billion IT industry. Three India-born scientists who have won Nobel Prize are recognized for their works done entirely outside India. No mathematician from India has yet been able to create the magic.

Scientific research and development is almost nonexistent in the private sector of the country. Indian researchers get better recognition and work opportunities outside the country. Ph.D. is the word to give recognition to research capability. People like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs who are college drop outs, would probably have had no opportunities in India.

Research and Development (R&D) is yet to find a place in Indian system and its economic thought process. If we look at the R&D expenditure by public and private sectors as percentage of the GDP of leading research oriented countries, Israel contributes with 4.86% to R&D whereas Sweden contributes 3.75%, Finland and the US spend 3.46% and 2.82% of its GDP to research respectively, whereas in India, contribution towards R&D stands at a paltry 0.9% of the GDP, which is amongst the lowest in leading emerging economies.

However, many industries, including the pharmaceutical and automotive industries, have been investing heavily in R&D of late. Large multinationals and other foreign companies have set up research facilities in India. Inflow of foreign exchange for R&D has increased from USD 221 million in 2004- 05 to USD 878 million in 2010-11. But, India’s research funding as a proportion of the country’s total R&D expenditure has been falling continuously. The problem is that science in India has for too long been restricted by a bureaucratic mentality that accords higher priority to administrative attentions than it does to scientific achievement. What will it take now to reinvigorate India’s dilapidated scientific research behemoths, trapped for decades in a sclerosis like rigid bureaucracy?

We need to think beyond the lines and limitations of bureaucracy or any other administrative rigidity. Scientific research, unlike academic research, requires something more; more capital investment and more team effort. In order to have its rightful place in the scientific and research community, the scientific planning of the country must shake off sedentary and rigid bureaucratic influences.

India’s long-term economic and industrial competitiveness requires heavy investment in scientific research, along with the proper recognition  of the role that government needs to play in order to foster indigenous capabilities. This requires making sure that the various arms of the government work together, something China appears to have mastered. This will not only improve business efficiency but will also prompt our younger generation to think beyond salary structure and relate their interest with career in scientific research.

Hope you will enjoy this edition which has a special focus on Scientific Research & Development. As my team is gearing up to spear at yet another theme on Green Energy, I am happy to invite you all to the forthcoming National Energy Summit on Renewable Energy (http://energysummit.governance today.co.in/) on December 11, 2014 in New Delhi, as presented by Governance Today. Mark your calendar!