India's R&D spend stagnant for 20 yrs at 0.7% of GDP

By PTC NEWS -- January 31, 2018 2:33 pm

India's spending on R&D in terms of percentage of GDP has been stagnant at 0.6 to 0.7 per cent in the last two decades -- much lower than the US, China, South Korea and Israel, the Economic Survey said on Monday.

The country needs to redouble its efforts to make improvements in science and R&D, said the Economic Survey 2017-18, tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

It has called for doubling national expenditures on R&D.

Although India's investment in science, which is measured in terms of Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD), has tripled in the last decade, the ratio was stagnant at 0.6 to 0.7 per cent of the GDP.

"India's spending on R&D (about 0.6 per cent of GDP) is well below that in major nations such as the US (2.8), China (2.1), Israel (4.3) and Korea (4.2)," the survey said.

India's GRED has tripled in the last decade to Rs 85,326 crores in 2014-15 from Rs 24,117 crore of 2004-05. It is estimated at Rs 1,04,864 crore in 2016-17.

According to the Survey, East Asian countries like China, Japan and Korea have seen dramatic increases in R&D as a percentage of GDP as they have become richer.

"India, on the other hand, has only seen a slight increase. In fact, in 2015, there was a sizable decline in R&D spending even as GDP per capita continued to rise. At its current rate, India would just barely reach GERD of 1 per cent of GDP by the time it was as rich as the USA," it added.

Private investments in R&D have severely lagged public investments in India, it said. In most countries, the private sector carries out most of the R&D. However, in India, the government is not just the primary source of R&D funding but also a primary user of these funds.

"According to one analysis (Forbes, 2017) there are 26 Indian companies in the list of the top 2,500 global R&D spenders compared to 301 Chinese companies. 19 (of these 26) firms are in just three sectors - pharmaceuticals, automobiles and software," said the Survey.

India has no firms in five of the top ten R&D sectors as opposed to China that has a presence in each of them.

About three-fifths of government's investment in R&D is spread over the key government science funding agencies like Atomic Energy, Space, Earth Sciences, Science and Technology and Biotechnology, the Survey said.

Even more, government expenditure on R&D is undertaken almost entirely by the central government.

"There is a need for greater State Government spending, especially application oriented R&D aimed at problems specific to their economies and populations," it said.

The survey also pointed out that there has been an increase in the number of enrolments in Ph.D with 1.26 lakh students in 2015-16.

While, in terms of publications and patents, India has improved and increased its global share.

"Between 2009-2014, annual publication growth was almost 14 per cent. It increased India's share in global publications from 3.1 per cent in 2009 to 4.4 per cent in 2014," the Survey said.

According to WIPO, India is the seventh largest patent filing office in the World.

It has suggested some measures as to improve math and cognitive skills at the school level, encourage investigator- led research, link national labs to universities and create new knowledge eco-systems to improve science and R&D in the country. PTI

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