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Science And Technology in India

June, 2014

Brief Introduction

India is presently among the topmost countries in the field of research and has also positioned itself among the top five nations in the world in the field of space exploration. It has also become the fourth country to launch a rocket to Mars with ‘Mangalyaan’, the Mars orbiter spacecraft which is scheduled to enter the Mars orbit by September this year.

Developments in the field of science and technology have always been recognised as a vital factor in the socio-economic development of India. Over the years, the country has made significant advancements in various spheres of science and technology and can now boast of a strong network of science and technology institutions, technically proficient manpower and an innovative knowledge base.

The Government of India has lent its focus to scientific and technical education in the country. With 16 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), 30 National Institutes of Technology (NITs), 162 universities awarding about 4,000 doctorates and 35,000 post-graduate degrees, and about 40 research laboratories run by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), India has made some significant achievements in the field of science and technology.

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, with the country’s global share increasing from 1.8 per cent in 2001 to 3.5 per cent in 2011.

India ranks among the top 10 nations in the world in the number of scientific publications,  17th in citations received, and 34th in citations per paper (among nations publishing 50,000 or more papers) across the science and technology field. India's global ranking is in proportion to its number of full-time equivalent (FTE) of research and development (R&D) personnel.


There has been a recent rise in the number of investments from foreign countries as well as private funded domestic organisations. The following are some the major investments and developments in India in the science and technology sector:

  • Virginia Tech in association with infrastructure development company Marg Group has set up a research centre for sustainable technologies near Chennai, and a sum of over US$ 3 million has been invested in it so far.
  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has successfully launched the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) C24 for the 25th time from Chennai. The PSLV carries a satellite of the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) which has India’s indigenously developed Global Positioning System (GPS).
  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research - Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology (CSIR-IHBT), has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with its industrial partner, Phyto Biotech, to formalise transfer of technology for production of unique autoclavable Super Oxide Dismutase (SOD) enzyme, used in cosmetic, food and pharmaceutical industries.
  • Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has entered into an MoU with the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay to establish an R&D Chair to promote applied research in the country.
  • India successfully conducted two rounds of trials of its indigenously developed surface-to-air Akash missile as part of a user trial by the Air Force from the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near Balasore in Odisha.

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). Also, there are plans to promote R&D and bring about the scientific temper so as to make India the world leader in this area, as per Mr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister for Science and Technology, Government of India.

The following are some of the major initiatives taken by the Government of India in the science and technology sector:

  • Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) under the Department of Atomic Energy, Government of India through its Centre for Incubation of Technologies (BARCIT) has signed an MoU with M/s Veena Industries for incubation of technology for ‘Biodegradable and Edible films for Food and Pharmaceuticals Packaging’. The biodegradable edible films for food and pharmaceutical packaging from natural resources will help overcome the disadvantages of plastic packaging materials.
  • The CSIR has joined hands with the Indian Meteorological Department to develop the Drishti system, an instrument to facilitate safe landing of aircraft in very low visibility conditions in civilian airports.
  • The Department of Space has joined hands with the Department of Telecommunications to overhaul India’s 17-year old satellite communications policy to pave the way for auctioning satellite bandwidth, which will consequently help to frame new rules for allocating satellite transponders and explore ways to deal with applications seeking use of foreign orbital slots.
  • India's space manned flight project received a boost recently with the Union Interim Budget hiking the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mark 3 programme's allocation from Rs 10 crore (US$ 1.68 million) to Rs 171 crore (US$ 28.82 million).
  • The Union Cabinet recently approved the mission document on the National Mission for Sustaining the Himalayan Ecosystem (NMSHE). This Mission was launched under the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) with a budget expenditure of Rs 550 crore (US$ 92.69 million) during the 12th Five Year Plan period.

Road Ahead

India is making rapid advancements towards industrialisation, technological developments and overall economic stability. In this regard, the advances in the field of science and technology and basic scientific research play an important part. The Government of India, through the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy-2013, among other things, also aspires to position India among the top five scientific powers in the world.

Exchange rate used INR 1= 0.01685 as on June 4, 2014

References: Ministry of Finance, Press Information Bureau (PIB), Media Reports and Press Releases, Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and Department of Science and Technology