To strengthen the link between industry and R&D centres, a cess should be imposed on the pharmaceuticals industry whereby 2.5 per cent of its turnover is invested in research into new diseases. Also, use of laboratory facilities of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research by industry should be against payment.
These measures were suggested at a pre-Budget meeting that scientists and technologists held with Union finance minister Manmohan Singh on December 12.
It was agreed that added motivation to industry to invest in public sector R&D could be provided by launching projects of commercial value, strengthening the patent system and ensuring the promoting industry first-user rights on products developed.
To streamline research organisations and ensure accountability, a voluntary retirement scheme was suggested for organisations where up to 90 per cent of the budget is spent in paying salaries.
Critics, however, dismissed the meeting as a legitimacy-gaining exercise by the government, because most invitees were government-appointed heads of institutes. Scientific unions and science academies, who might have other views, were not represented.
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