The HRD Ministry has dropped its proposal to set up an agency, with a seed grant of Rs 500 crore, to bolster the country’s weak research output following the Finance Ministry’s rejection. The proposed National Research Foundation (NRF), in addition to its own seed grant, was suppose to leverage resources from the industry to support 500 collaborative research projects between Indian institutions such as IITs, NITs, IISERs and reputable universities abroad.
It was planned as an umbrella body that would establish research priorities and provide 50 per cent of the funds required for research projects that fit the bill. According to sources, the Department of Science and Technology opposed the plan on the ground that the HRD Ministry was encroaching on its territory.
The Finance Ministry subsequently shot down the proposal citing duplication of work, as the Department of Science and Technology is already working on increasing the research output of the country.
The proposal was originally pitched to the Prime Minister during a presentation made on January 13 by secretaries working on education. The action-taken report on the GoS recommendations now states that the plan has been dropped as Finance “did not concur with the proposal”.
India lags way behind internationally in terms of its spending on research. India spends just 0.85 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on research as opposed to China which spends 2.1 per cent, US 2.74 per cent, Japan 3.58 per cent and Israel 4.11 per cent.