[Answered] The Centre needs to cover the current deficits in R&D to make India self-reliant. Comment

Introduction: Explain the importance of R&D.
Body: Write the challenges of R&D in India. Write how Improving R&D would help India become self-reliant.
Conclusion: Give a way forward.

Research and development (R&D) is essential to boost economic growth specially in the fast-changing world where new technologies disrupt the market more frequently than ever before.  

India’s R&D has several challenges that needs to be addressed:

  • Low GERD: India’s Gross Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) is 66% the percentage of gross domestic product (GDP). The percentage expenditure for the last couple of years shows a downward trend.
  • Low private sector expenditure: Private sector contributes to around 37% of total expenditure in R&D. While the remaining is contributed by the government.
  • Skewed Expenditure: The government expenditure on R&D went majorly (about 61%) to DRDO, Departments of Space and Atomic Energy, while around 37% went to ICAR, CSIR, DST, DBT, ICMR, etc, and only less than 1% to R&D in electronics, IT, and renewable energy.
  • Weak linkages: India has a weak linkage between universities, institutes of higher learning, and industry. This leads to deterioration in the standards of R&D work at the doctoral level.
  • Lack Human resource: India suffers from brain drain in innovation. Most of Indian researchers seek positions foreign universities because of their enabling ecosystem. This enabling eco system still not present in India to promote innovation.

If India is able to address the challenges of R&D in India. It will be huge step towards self-reliant India.

  • Reducing country’s technological dependence: reducing dependence on R&D-related imports and augment high technology exports, can make the trade deficit more manageable and would be a step towards self-reliance. India’s share in high technology exports stands at 9.1%, while for China and South Korea, it is 31.4% and 36.3% respectively.
  • Support new technology startups: India has a vibrant startup culture but these startups are dependent foreign technology giants to create business in India. If India wants to create tech giants like google, Microsoft in India it needs to start with addressing the challenges of R&D in India.
  • To take lead in emerging technologies: India aims to become a world leader by 2035 in 5G, supercomputing, Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, biotech/pharma and other technologies of the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. This would ensure self-reliance.
  • Improve manufacturing value chain and enhance competitiveness: There is a need to increase R&D expenditure in sectors which are import-dependent. For Moving from low-end mass manufacturing to a dominant role in global supply chains and improving competitiveness of the economy by utilizing new technology and innovations.
  • Utilizing the Indian talent pool in India: Addressing issues of R&D in India would halt the brain drain and enable India to utilize its talent pool in India itself. Multinational companies have established R&D shops in India utilising the talent pool at lower cost, while Indian corporates have failed to do so.

To address issues India could Increase funding in R&D to over 2% of its GDP (as suggested by Economic Survey 2020-21), Creation of culture of Innovation as emphasized in National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, Increase private sector funding by initiating Joint R&D projects between public institutions and start-ups/industries and Upgrade and encourage human resource by providing better remuneration to the young scientists.

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