|Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual introduction.
Body. Discuss various reasons for decreasing quality of scientific research in Indian universities. Mention various measures to boost scientific research in India.
Conclusion. Way forward.
Research and development (R&D) is at the core of economic growth. It leads to innovation and innovation in turn leads to economic growth. An analysis of research publications around the world has shown that in terms of scientific research output, the country’s universities have fallen way behind than other countries. The higher education sector in India has been largely a failure in R&D, according to most analysts, except for a few institutions, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, All India Institutes of Medical Sciences and the Indian Institute of Science.
Reasons for decreasing quality of scientific research in Indian universities:
- Funding: Inadequate funding especially in private institutes has led to minimal R&D activity in India. Government spending in R&D has continued to remain static for about a decade, at 0.9% of the GDP, as compared to China, whose spending during the 2000-2017 period grew at an average of 17%. The situation is so dire in India that even the country’s premier technology colleges, the Indian Institutes of Technology, are reaching out to their alumni for funds.
- Poor private sector R&D: According to an Economic survey, 2018, there are only 26 Indian companies in the list of the top 2,500 global R&D spenders, out of which, 19 are concentrated between just three sectors. Poor research enthusiasm in the private sector due to focus on profits and earning and less spending has led to poor quality of scientific research in India.
- Institutional Framework: University system in India has emphasised more on teaching over research. This in addition to rigid admission rules, for example bar on change of discipline, age restrictions and lack of inter and trans-disciplinary culture in universities has led to poor scientific research in Indian universities.
- The Quality of Students: Majority of students are motivated to pursue Ph.D. to get entry into the teaching profession and subsequent career advancement. They often enter into academia for various extraneous reasons and pursue it for want of a better option. A large number of students taking admission to Ph.D. programs with accumulated deficit of disciplinary knowledge and research methodology and often even lack communication skills and linguistic competence.
- Weak linkages: India has a weak linkage between universities, institutes of higher learning, and industry. That linkage is a lot more robust in countries like the US, UK, Germany, and Israel. Most Indian universities have not been able to modify their curriculum with changing times.
- Weak IPR: The most important issue is the weak IPR regime. Any investment in R&D pre-supposes a strong intellectual property rights (IPR) regime to protect the IPs. In most areas, R&D IPs are either too weak structurally or are very hard to enforce.
Measures to boost scientific research in India:
- Investment in Science and Technology: The way forward for India is through investment in science for a sustainable research culture. If we want to grow scientific research in the country, we need to focus and create opportunities in science and technology.
- Basic Scientific Research: Focus must be on interdisciplinary research and increased use of technology. Efforts must be made to encourage and foster curiosity of the life sciences among primary school students. Steps should be taken to improve math and cognitive skills at the school level. National labs to universities should be linked so that R&D can initiate from very basis.
- Improve STEM Education in Schools: The current methods being used to teach science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in India’s schools have become both inefficient and ineffective. By promoting problem-solving and critical thinking through STEM education, students will be better prepared for future careers. In turn, this new approach will build an entrepreneurial ecosystem in India that promotes job creators not job seekers.
- Funding: The immediate priority in this regard should be to increase the government funding in higher education and R&D. Private sector should be encouraged to focus more on R&D and spending CSR funds on R&D.
- Change in approach: India needs to redouble its efforts to improve science and R&D in the country.Taking a more mission-driven approach in areas such as dark matter, genomics, energy, agriculture and mathematics is needed. Matching efforts are required directed at improving “ease of doing business” to the “ease of doing science” index.
Potential for R&D in India is huge but there are ground level challenges. To catapult India into the top five scientific nations, the country needs enabling policies with increased spending. India’s ambition should be to become the front-runner in the field of scientific research.