Proposed National Research Foundation looks to tap CSR to address funding concerns

Source: The post is based on the article “Proposed National Research Foundation looks to tap CSR to address funding concerns” published in The Hindu on 14th July 2023

What is the News?

The National Research Foundation(NRF) has been approved by the Cabinet. But there are concerns over its autonomy and its funding structure.

What is the National Research Foundation(NRF)?

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What are the concerns related to the National Research Foundation(NRF)?

Funding: NRF will operate with a budget of ₹50,000 crore for five years, of which 28% will be the government’s share and the remaining 72% (36,000 crore) will come from the private sector.

– But the statistics from the Ministry of Science and Technology suggest that only 36% of India’s research expenditure  of roughly ₹1.2 lakh crore  came from the private sector in 2019-20. 

– This is one of the reasons why India’s expenditure on research and development is still around 0.6% of the Gross Domestic Product, below the 1-2% which was characteristic of countries with a stronger science and technology infrastructure and the global average of 1.8%.

– Hence, the measures being planned is to have private companies and public sector entities contribute from their ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR)’ corpus to the NRF.

Autonomy: NRF has been envisioned as an autonomous body.The money given to it wouldn’t be controlled by the general financial rules (laid down by the Ministry of Finance) and the CEO as well the board would have autonomy in directing research funds.

– But the proposed structure has both the Science Minister and Education Minister as vice-presidents.The Science Ministry will administratively control it.

– Hence, the clauses on autonomy must be clearly spelt out or else it will end up like multiple attempts in the past.

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