Experts have welcomed the budgetary move to set up a National Research Foundation and according to Dr Shekhar Mande, DG, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), it will bring about coordination between multiple agencies in the country handling the research.
The foundation has been proposed to correct the deficit in research and will centralise funding and ensure coordinated research and innovation efforts, especially in areas that are critical for the country. “It is a good development as there are so many complementary programs underway at various scientific institutes that this will be a concerted and consolidated effort to bring it under one roof,” Mande told The Indian Express.
Dr Bhushan Patwardhan, vice chairman, University Grants Commission, also called it a positive move. “There are multiple agencies supporting research, like CSIR, DST and DBT. Many times there has been an overlap in funding and in many cases there are similar proposals. So, funding may have come from different sources as well but there was duplication and to coordinate all this activity, it was felt that a national research foundation should be set up,” said Patwardhan.
National Research Foundation to be set up to strengthen overall research ecosystem in the country; funds available under all Ministries to be integrated with NRF : FM @nsitharaman https://t.co/Mp4d2KxAtz #BudgetForNewIndia #Budget2019
— Ministry of HRD (@HRDMinistry) July 5, 2019
He said the Foundation will help build synergy among existing funding agencies and ensure optimization of resources. “Also, we will have a clear direction of research — what are national priority areas and what kind of funding can go for research,” he said. But he added that this would not take away the autonomy of any scientific council. “There is no superpower that will come into existence and dictate what research should be done or not,” he said.
The foundation will comprise representatives from different ministries and councils.
“This overarching umbrella is just to bring more synergy and ensure better quality and improved outcomes in terms of research publications, patents, and others. There will be no change in the agenda of the institutes, like the Indian Council of Medical Research or Indian Council of Agriculture Research. For instance, a virology institute working on a significant research can get funding from ICMR, DBT or CSIR or research on medicinal plants can also get funding from the Ministry of AYUSH and other councils. The main aim is also to avoid duplication, assimilate research grants and focus on better outcomes of research,” said Patwardhan.