Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee did not make any specific mention of science and technology during the budget speech. But the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the apex body for funding science and technology endeavours and capacity building in the country managed to scoop Rs 2,477 crore up from Rs 2,349 crore last year. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the public funded body for scientific and industrial research, under Department for Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR) has been allocated Rs 2,013 crore. Last year, the allocation for DSIR was Rs 1,930.
Y Madhvi at National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies says the money given is almost the same as last year. Madhav Govind, associate professor at Centre for Studies in Science Policy, New Delhi, says a major chunk of science and technology budget goes to space and atomic energy departments. Current allocation for space research is Rs 5,615 crore. From this Rs 82 crore has been earmarked for the ambitious Chandrayaan II project. “DSIR has 40 labs that work on various subjects ranging from medicinal plants to chemical and 25,000 scientists. It controls all industrial research which drives capital in the country. The amount proposed is very meagre,” says Govind.
The budget also does not propose anything to boost scientific research. The University Grants Commission (UGC) has been allocated Rs 6,361.15 crore but that needs to be shared amongst 18,000 colleges in the country. Govind laments that this was the case with previous budgets too. “Universities in other countries are the primary institutions for scientific research. But in India it is not so.”
K Muralidhar, former head of department of zoology at Delhi University, agrees, “This is a good budget, but the trend of government focussing more on research institutes than universities continues. Universities get little research funding from UGC. We have to compete for competitive funds from DST and other government departments. CSIR and other research institutes also compete for these funds.” Muralidhar notes that the standard of research at many of the labs in Delhi University is better than the CSIR labs.
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