Science and Technology
India has positioned itself as among the top five nations in the field of space exploration.

Science and Technology in India

Latest update: July, 2016

Strengthening human capacities for growth

•In recent years, the Indian Government has implemented several fellowship schemes to nurture human capacity for advanced research in the country

•Following the Government’s initiatives, the number of researchers per million people has gone up from 140 during 2004–06 to 160 in 2010

•The period between 2010-20E has been declared as the “Decade of Innovation” by the nation



Last Updated: July, 2016

SECTORAL REPORT | January, 2016


India ranks third among the most attractive investment destinations for technology transactions in the world$. Modern India has had a strong focus on science and technology, realising that it is a key element of economic growth. India is among the topmost countries in the world in the field of scientific research, positioned as one of the top five nations in the field of space exploration. The country has regularly undertaken space missions, including missions to the moon and the famed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). On 16 October 2014, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s PSLV-C26 successfully launched IRNSS-1C, the third satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. This is PSLV’s 27th consecutive successful mission.

Currently@, 27 satellites including 11 that facilitate the communication network to the country are operational, establishing India’s progress in the space technology domain. India is likely to take a leading role in launching satellites for the SAARC nations, generating revenue by offering its space facilities for use to other countries.
There has been considerable emphasis on encouraging scientific temperament among India’s youth through numerous technical universities and institutes, both in the private and government sectors. As of June 2016, the country had a total of 17 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), 31 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), 665# universities with 11,443 institutions as well as 35,829 colleges, and about 43 research laboratories run by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

Market size

India is among the world’s top 10 nations in the number of scientific publications. Position-wise, it is ranked 17th in the number of citations received and 34th in the number of citations per paper across the field of science and technology (among nations publishing 50,000 or more papers). The country is ranked ninth globally in the number of scientific publications and 12th in the number of patents filed.

India's analytics industry is expected to touch US$ 16 billion by 2025 from the current US$ 2 billion##.

With support from the government, considerable investment and development has incurred in different sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, space research, and nuclear power through scientific research. For instance, India is gradually becoming self-reliant in nuclear technology. Recently, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit-1 (KKNPP 1) with 1,000 MW capacity was commissioned, while the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit-2 (KKNPP-2) with 1,000 MW capacity is under commissioning.

Recent developments

Some of the recent developments in the field of science and technology in India are as follows

  • The Government of India and the Government of the United Kingdom have signed an agreement to work together in the fields of Solar Energy and Nano Material Research, which is expected to yield high quality and high impact research outputs having industrial relevance, targeted towards addressing societal needs.
  • Intertek Group, a UK-based total quality assurance provider, has launched an Agricultural Technology (Agritech) laboratory in Hyderabad, which will perform high-tech Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) analyses for the agri-biotech, plant seeds breeding, and plant seeds production industries.
  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has discovered a breed of natural cures for cancer in Quercetin, a compound found in fruits and leaves, and plant Vernonia Condensata, which can significantly reduce the tumour size and increase the longevity of life.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has completed its mission of developing India's independent navigation system by launching Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS - 1G), the seventh and final navigation satellite, which will reduce the country's dependency on US Global Positioning System.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), aimed at providing space technology for construction of airports, which will help make flight operations safer and provide optimum utilisation of land.
  • Antrix Corporation Limited (Antrix), the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), is holding preliminary discussions with some of the global space agencies of USA, Canada, France, Republic of Korea and Turkey to enable them to utilise the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) services for the foreign customer satellites.
  • Indian and American delegations have discussed an arrangement for Space Situational Awareness (SSA), a programme for monitoring space environment and track potential hazards and security threats, and have set up a bilateral mechanism for sharing information for tracking movements of satellites, avoiding collisions and identifying potential threats to space and ground assets.
  • The National Research Development Corporation (NRDC) has signed an Memorandum of Understand (MOU) with Indian Institute of Chemical Biology (IICB) which will give an impetus to the “Startup India” and “Make in India” missions of the Government of India by promoting entrepreneurships, incubation, Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) and technology transfer.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched India’s fifth navigation satellite IRNSS-1E, a 1,425 kg satellite launched as part of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS), from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.
  • The Department of Space/ Indian Space Research Organisation (DOS/ISRO) and Kuwait Institute of Scientific Research (KISR) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of exploration and use of outer space.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to build its heaviest rocket, which can increase its satellite carrying capacity by five times to 10 tonnes weight into space and would be powered by a semi-cryogenic engine designed and being built by Godrej Aerospace.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is taking steps towards developing its own reusable rocket using a Winged Reusable Launch Vehicle Technology Demonstrator (RLV-TD), whose tech demo is expected to be conducted in February 2016.
  • Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has launched six satellites of Singapore aboard the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C29) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, marking the completion 50 launches from Sriharikota since 1979.
  • The National Institution for Transforming India Aayog (NITI Aayog) plans to release a blueprint for various technological interventions which need to be incorporated by the Indian manufacturing economy.
  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore has become the first Indian institution to enter the Top 100 universities ranking in engineering and technology*.
  • The Union Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan and the German Federal Minister for Education and Research Ms Johanna Wanka have signed an agreement for increased cooperation between India and Germany in the field of science and technology.
  • A team of scientists from India and Bangladesh will conduct for the first time, joint marine research within Bangladesh’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which is expected to help in understanding climate change and monsoon patterns in India.

Investment Scenario

  • InnoNano Research, a clean water technology company, has raised US$ 18 million from NanoHoldings, a US-based energy and water investment firm, which will be used to set up manufacturing facility, modern research laboratory and technology delivery offices across North America, Asia and Africa to make India an exporter of water technologies.
  • Ecoppia, an Israel-based developer of robotic cleaning technology for solar sites, has signed a deal with Sanmina Corporation, a US-based Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), to begin mass production of their E4 robots at a new facility near Chennai.

The Government aims to invest 2 per cent of the country’s GDP on research and development (R&D) in its 12th Five-Year Plan period (2013–17). Accordingly, the Government has undertaken various measures for promoting growth of scientific research, such as:

  • Sustained increase in plan allocations for scientific departments
  • Setting up of new institutions for science education and research
  • Launch of new Science, Technology and Innovation Policy 2013
  • Creation of centres of excellence for research and facilities in emerging and frontline science and technology areas in academic and national institutes
  • Establishment of new and attractive fellowships
  • Strengthening infrastructure for R&D in universities
  • Encouraging public-private R&D partnerships
  • Recognition of R&D units
  • Fiscal incentives and support measures for enhancing industry participation in R&D
  • Several recent developments indicate the progress made in R&D.
  • TAL Manufacturing Solutions Ltd, a subsidiary of Tata Motors, plans to launch of India's first indigenous industrial-articulated robot, 'Tata Brabo', which can facilitate automation by offering affordable and cost-effective solutions, in the next two months. 
  • A project to build India’s largest underground laboratory for advanced research on the smallest particle known to man has been cleared by the prime minister’s office. This is a move that could make India a major nuclear physics research hub.
  • Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of ISRO, has finalised contracts to launch 16 satellites of six countries in the coming years.
  • India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) aims to study the properties of atmospheric neutrinos, which are subatomic particles produced by the decay of radioactive elements. An initiative Marine Advanced Simulation Training (MAST) centre is among the world’s most advanced simulation centres, and would be a part of the ongoing efforts of MOL and its partner Synergy Group, a ship management firm with over 100 vessels under its management, to step up recruitment of seafarers from India.
  • Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, has launched a joint Indo-Canadian science program focusing on clean water technologies. According to Dr Singh, the new program would be pursued through a joint collaboration between the Department of Science & Technology under the ministry and the National Science and Engineering Council of Canada.
  • Saama Technologies Incorporation, the Big Data analytics solutions and services company, headquartered in the Silicon Valley, plans to invest US$ 2 million to create the largest pure play data science and analytics hub in India.

Government Initiatives

Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, outlined Government of India's plans to pursue a green path to growth by doubling investment in clean energy research to US$ 145 million in the next five years between 2017-2021 from current investment of US$ 72 million.

The Department of Health Research (DHR), Ministry of Health and Family Welfare plans to set up a three-tier national network of Viral Research and Diagnostic Laboratories (VRDLs) under which 160 VRDLs will be set up with capability to handle around 30-35 viruses of public health importance.

The Government of India plans to set up 15 new technology centres and upgrade two existing ones for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by 2017, which can cater to the needs of nearby industries and work as cluster development centres for industries located in their area.

The central government plans to soon institute a nation-wide consultation process with a view to develop the first publicly accessible Science and Technology policy. The policy ‘Vision S&T 2020’ would articulate the country’s future towards self-reliance and technological independence in the 21st century.

The Union Cabinet gave "in principle" clearance for the location of a Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) facility in India which will be the third in the world and will be set up and managed by the IndIGO Consortium (Indian Initiative in Gravitational-wave Observations).

The Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology of the Government of India has become only the second country outside of Europe to join the European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO), which consists of 1,700 eminent scientists and 84 Nobel laureates, and aims to encourage research in the field of life sciences.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) under Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and North East Centre for Technology Application and Research (NECTAR) to use spatial technology such as satellite data to monitor and manage national highways.

With an ambition to turn India into a world-class centre for genomics, a total of Rs44.7 billion (US$ 662.63 million) has been allocated to the Department of Science and Technology in the Union budget 2016-17.
The Department of Information and Technology plans to create a separate online portal for inviting ideas from technology innovators, with the objective to provide them with assistance including finance (bankrolling), and thus help to boost initiatives like Startup India and Digital India.

Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Commerce and Industry, has launched the Technology Acquisition and Development Fund (TADF) under the National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) to facilitate acquisition of Clean, Green and Energy Efficient Technologies, by Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

National Council of Science Museums (NCSM), an autonomous organisation under the Union Ministry of Culture, is engaged in the establishment of Science Centres across the country. NCSM is developing a Science City at Guwahati, Assam, which would be handed over to the Government of Assam for future operations and maintenance. The organisation has received proposals from various state governments for setting up of such Science Cities. NCSM has undertaken the Science Centres/Cities projects in a phased manner depending on the availability of resources, project handling capacity of NCSM, and existing level of science centre activities in a particular state.

In the Union Budget 2015–16, the following initiatives have been taken in the field of science and technology:

  • The space budget includes funds for Aditya-1, India’s first satellite to study the Sun, and is intended to launch after 2017.
  • Finance Minister ArunJaitley announced funds for two more IIT centres and five more medical schools in the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) system.
  • Overall, the Ministry of Science and Technology, which is India's main agency for disbursing research grants, received Rs 95 billion (US$ 1.41 billion) in the Union Budget 2015–16.
  • Some other government initiatives undertaken recently are as follows:
  • The Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of New and Renewable Energy Resources collaborated through joint expert committee meetings, inter-ministerial consultations, and delegations to clarify R&D priorities to develop energy-efficient and environment-friendly technologies. Thus far, three multi-institutional networked virtual Joint Clean Energy Research and Development Centres on solar energy, second-generation biofuels, and building energy efficiency have been set up. The research carried so far has resulted in 72 publications in peer reviewed journals and filing of one patent.
  • India's leading research centres are seeking more scientific partnerships for the country's remote areas, particularly the northeastern states while working with the Indo-French Centre for the Promotion of Advanced Research (CEFIPRA). CEFIPRA is India's first and France's sole bilateral organisation, committed to promoting collaboration between the scientific communities of the two countries across the knowledge innovation chain. 
  • Established in 1987, the centre receives financial support from the Department of Science and Technology under the central government, and the foreign affairs ministry of France.
  • Mr Y S Chowdary, Union Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, said the ministry plans to establish an Indian Innovation Centre (IIC) and all states of the country will be its members. He also expressed the need to establish a science city in every state of the country. 
  • The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has developed and deployed technologies for the use of atomic energy in the areas of electricity generation, nuclear power, agriculture, food preservation, healthcare, isotope hydrology, R&D and deployment in areas pertaining to national security.

The Road Ahead

India is aggressively working towards establishing itself as a leader in industrialisation and technological development. Significant developments in the nuclear energy sector are likely as India looks to expand its nuclear capacity. Moreover, nanotechnology is expected to transform the Indian pharmaceutical industry. The agriculture sector is also likely to undergo a major revamp, with the government investing heavily for the technology-driven Green Revolution. The Government of India, through the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy-2013, among other things, aspires to position India among the world’s top five scientific powers.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0148 as on July 11, 2016

References – Media reports, Press Releases, Press Information Bureau (PIB), Union Budget 2016-17

Notes - @ - As per information provided in Lok Sabha, # - In 2012-13, as per Ministry of Human Resources and Development Annual Report 2015, $- as per Ernst & Young's (EYs) Global Capital Confidence Barometer (CCB) - Technology report, * - as per The Times Higher Education of London, ## - as per the National Association of Software and Services  Companies (NASSCOM)

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.

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