By: Harit Lakhani
According to the Global R&D Funding data made available by R & D magazine for the years since 2014, it is clear that India’s expenditure on R & D has increased to 86.24 Billion USD (PPP) in 2018 from 61.85 Billion USD (PPP) in 2014, an increase of nearly 40%. However, the expenditure on R&D as percentage of GDP has remained stagnant at 0.85% from 2014 to 2018. It must, however, be pointed out the nearly entire share of this expenditure on R&D is through Department of Science, Department of Atomic Energy, DRDO, etc. and negligent through Universities though in advanced democracies Universities are provided substantial share of R&D budget. Similarly, the share of private sector has nearly remained stagnant around 43-44% while in advanced democracies this is nearly 70%.
Observations about allocations in key departments related to R&D:
The Department of Scientific & Industrial Research saw an increase from 2,100 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 4,796 crore in 2018-19, an increase of 128%.
The Department of Biotechnology budget increased from Rs. 1485 crore in 2013-14 to 2,411 crore in 2018-19, an increase of 62%.
The Department of Science & Technology budget saw an increase from Rs 3,401 crore in 2015-16 to Rs 5321 crore in 2019-20, an increase of 56%.
The Department of Atomic Energy budget saw an increase from Rs 10,446 crore in 2014-15, to Rs 13,971.41 crore in 2018-19, to Rs. 16,725 crore in 2019-20, an increase of increase of 60%.
The increase must be seen in the context of the 56% increase in the budget from 17.9 lakh crore in 2014-15 to 27.84 lakh crore in 2019-20. Therefore, in that light only the Department of Scientific & Industrial Research has seen substantial improvement
Considering only one department has received substantially increased funding and the overall stagnation in R&D spending as percentage of GDP, the performance against this promise is considered “Inadequate”.