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Science And Technology in India

April, 2014


Science and technology is widely recognised as an important tool for fostering and strengthening the economic and social development of the country. India has made significant progress in various spheres of science and technology over the years and can now take pride in having a strong network of science and technology institutions, trained manpower and an innovative knowledge base.

India is amongst the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research. Indian Science is one of the most powerful segments for growth and development, especially in the emerging scenario and competitive economy.

India has the third largest scientific and technical manpower in the world; 162 universities award 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research runs 40 research laboratories which have made some significant achievements.

The country has also made remarkable strides achieving 98 per cent indigenisation in launch vehicle technology and 60–70 per cent in satellite technology, according to Mr M Y S Prasad, Director, Sathish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR at Sriharikota.

Market Size

India ranks ninth globally in the number of scientific publications and 12th in the number of patents filed. The composite annual growth rate (CAGR) of Indian publications is around 12±1 per cent and India's global share increased from 1.8 per cent in 2001 to 3.5 per cent in 2011. By 2020, the global share of publications must double and the number of papers in the top 1 per cent journals must quadruple from the current levels.

According to the Global Science Report of the UNESCO, India's current global ranking is commensurate with its number of full-time equivalent (FTE) of research and development (R&D) personnel. It is imperative that the total number of FTE of R&D personnel increase by at least 66 per cent of the present strength within the next five years.

Recent Developments

"We need a new wave of investment from the private sector so that young people will be encouraged to seek a career in science," according to Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India.

Some of the recent developments in Indian science and technology sector are:

  • A team of five students from Kerala has been selected for an international competition in the US for designing a rover for Mars mission. The team from Toc-H Institute of Science and Technology (TIST) is among the 31 teams selected for University Rover Challenge (URC) from six countries.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-D5 (GSLV-D5), from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. With this, India has joined the 'cryo club', a select group of spacefaring nations having the cryogenic engine technology, which is necessary to carry heavy satellites.
  • A group of researchers from Pune University and Serum Institute have received a patent on the use of Ashwagandha as a vaccine adjuvant, or component that helps improve its efficacy.
  • National Innovation Foundation (NIF) has formed a joint venture (JV) with Pune-based EnSigns Life Sciences and Jayshree Foods to manufacture and market nutraceutical products globally.
  • The Department of Space/ ISRO has established an endowed fellowship at the Graduate Aerospace Laboratories of the California Institute of Technology, California, USA.
  • Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), India's largest software services firm, has joined US2020 as a founding leadership partner, providing more than US$ 500,000 in cash and in-kind support.

Government Initiatives

The Government of India plans to increase the R&D budget to up to two per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012–17), as per Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Union Minister for Science and Technology, Government of India.

The following are some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India to further promote science and technology in the country:

  • The National Innovation Council along with the Ministry of Culture and the Planning Commission is working on the scheme to launch 100 innovation hubs across the country to promote innovation through science and technology. Mr Sam Pitroda, Chairman, National Innovation Council & Adviser to the Prime Minister on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations, inaugurated an 'Innovation Hub' at the National Science Centre in New Delhi.
  • The India–France Technology Summit, organised by Department of Science and Technology, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and French Embassy has witnessed 11 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between India and France in the field of science and technology and education.
  • The Government of India is investing heavily in science and technology during the 12th Five-Year Plan period and it has drawn up an ambitious agenda, according to Mr K Kasturirangan, space scientist and a member of the Planning Commission.
  • The Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and RIKEN, Japan's largest research organisation have signed MoUs to launch joint research programmes in the fields of biology, life sciences and material sciences.
  • The Government of India has asked Vietnam to set up an electronics cluster in India. Both the countries have signed two MoUs for partnership in the field of information, communications and technology (ICT).
  • The Andhra Pradesh State Council of Science and Technology, an autonomous body under the state government, has submitted a proposal to set up a Rs 100 crore (US$ 16.57 million) science city on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
  • The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), UK and the Earth System Science Organisation (ESSO), Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), India, have signed a MoU to facilitate cooperation between UK and the Indian earth system science and environmental research communities.

Road Ahead

India is the Promised Land of scientific and technology research. Advances in these two areas have a significant impact in India's present and, therefore, its future. India is the primary source for many outsourcing companies for that reason. In addition, the country has a large pool of professionals who are high skilled and a valuable asset to the country. The government is a democracy that favours advances and research in the technological and scientific areas.

India is leading in many areas and evolving in others. Industrial research and development competitiveness must be encouraged more, as most of the effort goes into the field of space, defense, oceanography, and atomic energy. However, India is strong in software technology and computer science.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0.0165 as on April 20, 2014

References: Media Reports, Press Releases, Planning Commission website, Department of Science & Technology website