India’s Research and Development (R&D)


National Science Day, celebrated every year on February 28th, commemorates the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, while also paying tribute to the invaluable contributions of scientists towards India’s advancement.


GS-02 GS-03 (Government policies and interventions, Growth and Development)

National Science Day

  • Overview:
    • National Science Day marks the historic moment when Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman discovered the phenomenon known as the Raman Effect.
    • This effect describes the scattering of light as it passes through a transparent material, causing alterations in wavelength and energy.
    • In 1928, on the 28th of February, C.V. Raman made this monumental discovery, ultimately earning him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for his remarkable contributions to the field.
    • Theme: Indigenous Technologies for Viksit Bharat (Developed India)

India’s Investment in Research and Development (R&D)

  • Declining R&D Expenditure:
    • India’s expenditure on Research and Development (R&D) has dwindled to 0.64% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) in 2020-21, down from 0.8% in 2008-2009 and 0.7% in 2017-2018.
    • This downward trend raises concerns, especially considering repeated calls from government bodies to double R&D spending.
    • The 2013 Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy aimed at elevating Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) to 2% of GDP, a goal reiterated in the 2017-2018 Economic Survey.
    • However, the reasons behind the reduction in R&D expenditure remain ambiguous, possibly stemming from inadequate coordination among government entities and a lack of strong political will to prioritize R&D funding.
  • R&D Expenditure in Developed Countries:
    • In contrast, most developed nations allocate between 2% and 4% of their GDP to R&D.
    • In 2021, OECD member countries averaged 2.7% of GDP on R&D, with the U.S. and the U.K. consistently surpassing 2% over the past decade.
    • To drive substantive development through science, experts advocate for India to allocate at least 1%, ideally 3%, of its GDP annually to R&D until 2047.

Addressing Sustainable R&D Funding Challenges:

  • Enhance Budget Utilization:
    • Implement stricter monitoring mechanisms to ensure that allocated funds are efficiently utilized by departments like DBT, DST, and DSIR.
    • Encourage transparent reporting and accountability to identify and address any inefficiencies in budget utilization.
  • Streamline Disbursement Processes:
    • Invest in improving infrastructure and administrative capabilities to expedite the disbursement of grants and salaries.
    • Establish clear timelines and procedures for fund distribution to minimize delays and streamline the process.
    • Utilize digital platforms and technologies for faster and more efficient fund transfers and approvals.
  • Stabilize Government Funding:
    • Develop long-term strategic plans for R&D funding, taking into account the importance of science and technology for national development.
    • Create dedicated budgets or funds specifically earmarked for R&D, providing stability and predictability for research initiatives.
    • Foster collaboration between government agencies, research institutions, and industry stakeholders to collectively advocate for increased R&D funding.
  • Encourage Private Sector Investment:
    • Create a conducive environment for private sector investment in R&D by offering incentives such as tax breaks, grants, and subsidies.
    • Foster public-private partnerships to leverage the strengths of both sectors and encourage knowledge exchange and innovation.
    • Enhance intellectual property rights protection and enforcement to instill confidence among private investors regarding the security of their investments.
  • Promote Research Collaboration:
    • Facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among research institutions, academia, and industry to maximize resources and expertise.
    • Encourage interdisciplinary research initiatives to address complex challenges and stimulate innovation.
    • Establish funding mechanisms and grants specifically aimed at supporting collaborative research projects across sectors and disciplines.
  • Strengthen Evaluation and Monitoring:
    • Develop robust evaluation frameworks to assess the impact and effectiveness of R&D investments.
    • Regularly monitor and evaluate the progress of research projects to identify areas for improvement and reallocate resources accordingly.
    • Foster a culture of accountability and transparency by sharing evaluation findings and best practices across stakeholders.