Government to boost scientific research

By Archita Bhatta
Published: Saturday 30 September 2006

Indian scientists may get more money to boost fundamental research. If the demands of the Union ministry of science and technology are met, funds for science and technology under the 11th five-year plan may be increased by 400 per cent to Rs 100,000 crore as compared to the 10th plan allocation. "One of the primary objectives of this is to increase the output of scientific papers in the country," said science and technology secretary T Ramasami.

"Lack of money is a stumbling block in the way of basic science research in the country. However, money will not bring results overnight. Basic science research takes time to give results," says Vikram Kumar, director, National Physical Laboratory. Manpower training is also a major problem. There is a need for proper infrastructure and equipment too. Many laboratories have not been upgraded for the last 10 to 15 years. "World-class research needs good infrastructure," adds Kumar.

The ministry has a target of generating around 60,000 research papers under the 11th plan as against 19,500 under the 10th. This will involve trebling the current investment in basic research through Science and Engineering Research Council support from Rs 330 crore per year to Rs 1,000 crore per year.

The best 500 students pursuing science will receive support from age 17 to 32 and an assured career in science, with chances of initial appointments as assistant professors. A million children between the age of 10 and 17 will be granted Rs 5,000 over five years. Outlays for science have grown 250 per cent between the 9th and 10th plan periods. But the national research and development expenditure has fallen from 0.86 per cent of GNP in 2000-2001 to 0.76 per cent of GNP in 2004-2005. At present the research and development investment is 0.8 per cent of GDP. The department aims to increase it to 1.3 per cent of GDP by 2012.

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