India launches National Research Foundation to boost science output

The foundation aims to get colleges and universities involved in scientific research; under one percent of the country’s 40,000 higher education institutions are currently involved in this activity.

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The Indian government has approved the creation of the National Research Foundation, which experts believe has the potential to address pressing issues and significantly improve research output.

The National Research Foundation is in charge of funding, promoting, and mentoring research in universities, but its role goes further. It aims to create a conducive environment for scientific inquiry in the nation.

The foundation aims to get colleges and universities involved in scientific research; under one percent of the country’s 40,000 higher education institutions are currently involved in this activity, according to the NRF’s detailed project report.

Former Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan said the foundation could be a “major landmark” for science in India.

Spenta Wadia, founding director of the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences in Bengaluru with ties to the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, called for a joining of education and research. 

“There has been an artificial separation between research and higher education in the country,” said Wadia, who worked on the detailed project report for the National Research Foundation. She added that NRF would help build research capacities in universities. “The union of education and research must be restored,” she said. 

The NRF intends to fill gaps in research at universities and colleges with NRF professorships, open to both serving and retired active researchers of any age. It will also provide doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships for young researchers. This plan is designed to encourage more research and bring value to the host institution.

Funding and promotion of research in natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and art will be provided by the NRF to foster creativity, critical thinking, and communication skills.

NRF would include ten directorates focused on science and technology as well as social sciences, Indian languages and knowledge systems, arts, and humanities. The project report emphasized that solutions to India’s national problems also require an understanding of a range of socio-cultural aspects and not just scientific application.

India seeks to ramp up its spending on science through the NRF, setting a goal of sharply increasing research funds from both public and private sources. At present, the country spends below 0.7 percent of GDP on R&D, lagging far behind countries like the US, China, Israel, Japan, and South Korea which all spend between two to five percent.

According to experts, India’s research output is hindered by its limited resources. It has only 253 researchers per million people compared to the US (4,200), China (1,200), and Israel (8,000).

The NRF’s estimated five-year budget of Rs500,000,000,000(about $6.1 billion) is not a significant increase in spending, but scientists believe it will rise once the NRF begins to take effect.

 

In his recent visit to the White House, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed a comprehensive five-point plan to strengthen collaboration between India and the United States in the areas of research and education.

Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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Nathan Yasis

Nathan Yasis

Nathan studied information technology and secondary education in college. He dabbled in and taught creative writing and research to high school students for three years before settling in as a digital journalist.

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