UNESCO Report on R&D in India – UPSC GS3

UNESCO Science Report(USR):
  • UNESCO Science Report is a global monitoring report. It is published every five years by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization(UNESCO).
  • Objective: The report monitors trends in science governance worldwide to identify which development path countries are following.
  • Latest Report: The latest edition was published with the title ‘The race against time for smarter development’. The report has an exclusive chapter on India.
UNESCO Science Report(USR) on India:
  • India’s Investment in Research:
    • India’s investment in research and development(R&D) remains unsatisfactory.
    • The gross domestic expenditure on research(GERD) has been stagnant at 0.7% of the GDP for years. However, in absolute terms, the research expenditure has increased.
    • India also has one of the lowest GERD/GDP ratios among the BRICS nations.
  • Target: 
    • The Science and Technology Policy of 2003 fixed the threshold of devoting 2% of GDP to research and development (R&D) by 2007.
    • However, the target has not been achieved and is being extended again and again.
  • Density of Scientists and Engineers:
    • In 1990, the density of scientists/engineers engaged in R&D in India per 10,000 of the labour force stood at 10.
    • This has now marginally increased to just 11 in 2018.
    • This is too low when compared to 50 in China, 130 in Japan, and 180 in South Korea.
  • R&D by Government and Private Sector:
    • R&D in the government sector has been declining steadily since 2015.
    • On the other hand, the share of private business enterprises in R&D has increased to 42%.
    • Moreover, investment in R&D by foreign multinationals is on the rise. It accounts for as much as 16% of private-sector investment in R&D in 2019.
  • Scientific Publications:
    • There has been an increase in scientific publications by Indian researchers on cutting-edge technologies. Total publications have risen from 80,458 in 2011 to 1.61 lakh in 2019.
    • However, patenting by domestic corporations, research institutes, universities, and individuals remain low in India.
  • The report underscores the need for ‘policy bridges’ for developing a more effective interaction between foreign and local research firms.
  • The report has also called for improved linkages between the start-up ecosystem and manufacturers. It will push technological development in sectors where India enjoys a global presence.
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