Science and Technology in India

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The Indian science and technology space has been instrumental to bring social and economic changes. The country has not only endeavoured to upgrade traditional skills to make them relevant and competitive, but has also been on a spur to develop advanced technologies, which has eventually played a pivotal role in transforming the nation into a modern, industrialised society. Scientific knowledge and expertise, innovation, high technology, industrial infrastructure and skilled workforce are the key factors that have driven the progress of the country to a major extent.

India is also one of the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research. Certain developments that took place on this front in the recent past have been discussed hereafter.

The Indian space technology has come a long way in terms of infrastructure as well as investments. India is the fifth largest consumer of energy globally and expected to become the world's third biggest energy consumer by 2030, leaving Japan and Russia behind. India has been ranked as the third best investment destination in renewable energy sector, next only to China and the US, as per a recent report by Ernst & Young (E&Y). Research and development (R&D) is an inseparable part of science and technology, with India fast emerging as the global R&D hub. Presence of world class institutions, a robust intellectual property (IP) regime and a rich talent pool of technical manpower available at a very competitive cost are major factors that are making India a viable destination for global researchers.

Market Size

India is one of the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research. Indian Science has come to be regarded as one of the most powerful instruments of growth and development, especially in the emerging scenario and competitive economy. In the wake of the recent developments and the new demands that are being placed on the science and technology system, it is necessary for us to embark on some major science projects which have relevance to national needs and which will also be relevant for tomorrow's technology.

In global terms, India is ninth in the number of scientific publications and 12th with regard to the patents filed. The compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of publications in the country is around 12±1 per cent. By 2020, the global share of publications is projected to be twice its current size and the number of papers in the top 1 per cent journals four-fold from what it is currently.

According to the Global Science Report of the UNESCO, India’s present ranking is commensurate with its number of full-time equivalent (FTE) of research and development (R&D) personnel. It is vital that FTE of R&D personnel increase by at least 66 per cent of its current strength in the next five years.


"We need a new wave of investment from the private sector so that young people will be encouraged to seek a career in science," according to Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India.

Some of the major investments in Indian science and technology sector are as follows:

  • The Zilla Parishad Gachibowli High School in Khajaguda, Andhra Pradesh, will get access to a full-fledged science laboratory set up jointly by two big corporates—Bombardier Transportation and Infotech Enterprises.
  • Tata Motors Ltd plans to invest about £30 million (US$ 49.14 million) in the National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC) for R&D. The investment would be made through its subsidiary Tata Motors European Technical Centre (TMETC) at the University of Warwick campus, UK.
  • Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) has said it will enhance its research and product development on future vehicle infotainment technologies through a new collaboration with Intel and the opening of a new technology R&D centre in Portland, Oregon.
  • The University of Michigan has entered into tie-ups with the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The five-year memorandum of understanding (MoU) between NCAER and the University of Michigan's Survey Research Center (SRC) is aimed at promoting collaborative survey research.
  • Hero MotoCorp has entered into a joint venture (JV) with Italy-based Magnetti Marelli for developing powertrains and next-generation electronic fuel-injection systems. The companies will invest US$ 8.5 million over the next 3 years and a total of US$ 27 million over 10 years in the JV, HMC-MM Auto Ltd.
  • The Amrita Centre for Nanosciences and Molecular Medicine has developed a nano-medicine that, it claims, will dramatically improve the treatment of drug-resistant chronic myeleogenous leukemia (CML, a form of blood cancer), when used in combination with imatinib, the standard drug for CML.


Government Initiatives

The Department of Science & Technology plays a pivotal role in promotion of science & technology in the country. The department has wide ranging activities ranging from promoting high end basic R&D of cutting edge technologies on one hand to service the technological requirements of the common man through development of appropriate skills and technologies on the other.

The Government of India is investing heavily in science and technology during the 12th Five Year Plan period and it has drawn up an ambitious agenda, according to Mr K Kasturirangan, Space scientist and a member of the Planning Commission.

The Government of India has taken some initiatives to further promote science and technology in the country:


  • India's vision to join the league of global space agencies on Mars exploration turned brighter, with a major milestone—the slingshot of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) to the solar orbit—being completed. The spacecraft is expected to reach the Mars orbit on September 24, 2014, after a 10-month journey around the sun and travelling 440 million km.
  • The India-France Technology Summit, organised by Department of Science and Technology, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and French Embassy has witnessed 11 MOUs between India and France in the field of science and technology and education.
  • The Andhra Pradesh State Council of Science and Technology, an autonomous body under the State government, has submitted a proposal to set up Rs 100 crore (US$ 16.10 million) science city on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
  • The Government has allocated Rs 6,275 crore (US$ 1.01 billion) to the Ministry of Science & Technology, Rs 5,615 crore (US$ 904.38 million) to the Department of Space and Rs 5,880 crore (US$ 946.95 million) to the Department of Atomic Energy in the Union Budget 2013-14
  • According to the Union Budget 2013-14, Rs 200 crore (US$ 32.21 million) is set apart to fund organisations that will scale up science and technology innovations and make these products available to the people
  • The Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and RIKEN, Japan's largest research organisation have signed MoUs to launch joint research programs in the fields of biology, life sciences and material sciences.


  • Road Ahead

The future of scientific research in India is very promising. Advances in scientific and technological research are having a significant impact in India's present and therefore, future, with the country being the primary source for many outsourcing companies. In addition, India has a large pool of professionals who are highly skilled and a valuable asset to the country.

India is also witnessing R&D growth in areas such as genetic modification, bio-energy sources, biochemistry, atomic energy, organ donation and biomedical science.

India is leading in many areas and evolving in others. Industrial R&D competitiveness must be encouraged more, as most of the effort goes into the field of space, defense, oceanography, and atomic energy.

Planning Board Member and former ISRO Chairman K Kasthurirangan has stated that India would double its spending from 0.9 per cent to almost 2 per cent on science and technology during the 12th Five Year Plan. The Government is focussing on development of education programs and scientific research in the next plan which would enhance the contribution of science and technology for the overall economic development. It would also focus on tie-ups between industries and research institutions, as well as universities.

Exchange Rate Used: INR 1 = US$ 0. 016 as on December 26, 2013


India Brand Equity Foundation, December 26, 2013