Why science needs sustainable funding

Why science needs sustainable funding


The theme for National Science Day 2024 is “Science for Sustainable Development”.

  • India aims to achieve developed country status by 2047 through sustainable means, as reflected in its commitments under the Paris Agreement and global fora.


GS-03 (Science and technology)

Key Highlights:

  • Despite recognition of the importance of science in driving development, India’s spending on research and development (R&D) remains low compared to global standards.
  • Calls to increase R&D spending to at least 3% of GDP annually until 2047 have been made to ensure meaningful impact on development.

Mains Question:

Critically analyze India’s current research and development (R&D) spending and its implications for the country’s long-term development goals. Discuss the challenges hindering private sector participation in R&D financing and propose strategies to enhance sustainable funding for science and technology in India. (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • Current State of R&D Spending
  • Need for Increased Funding
  • Challenges in Private Sector Participation
  • Budget Utilization Concerns

Current State of R&D Spending:

  • India’s research and development (R&D) expenditure is among the lowest globally, at 0.64% of GDP.
  • Despite previous commitments to increase R&D spending to 2% of GDP, actual expenditure has decreased over the years, raising concerns about the country’s ability to achieve its science and technology ambitions.

Need for Increased Funding:

  • Experts emphasize the need for India to significantly boost R&D spending to at least 3% of GDP annually until 2047.
  • This level of investment is crucial to drive meaningful scientific advancements and support the country’s transition to a developed nation.

Challenges in Private Sector Participation:

  • While developed countries rely heavily on private sector investment for R&D, India’s private sector contribution remains low at 36.4% of Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD).
  • Factors such as regulatory uncertainties and intellectual property rights concerns hinder private sector involvement in R&D financing.

Budget Utilization Concerns:

  • Efficient utilization of allocated R&D funds is essential for maximizing scientific outcomes. However, ministries responsible for R&D, such as the Department of Biotechnology and the Department of Science and Technology, have consistently under-utilized their budgets.
  • Addressing bureaucratic hurdles and capacity constraints is crucial to improve budget utilization.

Way Forward:

  • To ensure sustainable funding for science and technology, India must prioritize R&D spending and incentivize private sector participation. This includes streamlining regulatory processes, providing tax incentives, and fostering a conducive environment for innovation.
  • Additionally, building bureaucratic capacity to evaluate projects and monitor fund utilization is essential for maximizing the impact of R&D investments. By fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration, India can realize its vision of becoming a global leader in science and technology by 2047.