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: October, 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: October, 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).

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.

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, as per the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).

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 Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C35 (PSLV-C35) has successfully placed eight different satellites in a single rocket mission, including SCATSAT-1 for weather related studies, five foreign satellites and two satellites from Indian academic institutes into orbit.
  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) has announced a research and development (R&D) initiative to develop next generation sustainable refrigerant technologies as alternatives to the currently used refrigerant gases like hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), in order to mitigate its impact on the ozone layer and climate.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) geosynchronous satellite launch vehicle-F05 (GSLV) successfully launched India's weather satellite INSAT-3DR into space, which will provide meteorological services and assist search and rescue operations of security agencies including all defence forces, the coast guard, and in shipping industry.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) plans to partner with private firms to jointly build a navigation satellite that it would launch by March 2017, which would allow the space agency to free its resources to focus on research and deep space missions.
  • Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur (IIT-Kharagpur) and National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for research project to develop technology to construct maintenance free highways in India.
  • 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 VernoniaCondensata, 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.
  • 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 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.
  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bangalore has become the first Indian institution to enter the Top 100 universities ranking in engineering and technology*.

Investment Scenario

  • NIDHI (National Initiative for Development and Harnessing Innovations), an umbrella program pioneered by the Department of Science & Technology (DST), has committed Rs 500 crore (US$ 74.56 million) to implement Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Startup India initiative, by providing technological solutions and nurturing ideas and innovations into successful startups.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

Government Initiatives

Ms Nirmala Sitharaman, Minister of State with Independent Charge for the Ministry of Commerce & Industry, outlined plans of setting up a committee to examine and expeditiously implement measures to improve India’s innovation landscape.

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 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 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.

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.

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$ 0.0149 as on September 21, 2016

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

Notes - @ - As per information provided in Lok Sabha, $- , as per Ernst & Young's (EYs) Global Capital Confidence Barometer (CCB) - Technology report, * - as per The Times Higher Education of London.

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

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