Updated on 14 November 2012
Gandhi has plenty to smile about – Government of India is seriously investing in bio science
The Government of India has named 2010-20 as the ‘decade of innovations' and is currently in the process of formulating a new science, technology and innovation policy in order to live up to the same. Expected to be released in early 2013, the policy would reiterate the government's resolve to increase R&D spending to two percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) by 2017. With the increase in number of publications in scientific journals and the number of patents filed and granted, there are some early evidences of improvements in our global competitiveness.
Speaking at an international conference recently, Mr Vayalar Ravi, Minister of Science and Technology, Government of India, revealed that, "We foresee an opportunity for optimization of investments into R&D when we build on collaborative excellence. Sharing objectives, co-investments and co-generation of values to people through science seem to me as a new paradigm."
The government agencies have been offering various types of research grants and fellowships through soft loans or equity in order to conduct research in various fields of biotechnology and commercialize indigenous biotechnologies. There are three major departments under the Ministry of Science and Technology (S&T), Government of India; each with its own mandate and funding programs. These include the Department of Science and Technology (DST), the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR).
Besides these, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) play a major role in the promotion of biotechnology in the country.
Over the last five years, there has been an increase (up to 25 percent) in public funding to promote research, across all government agencies. The budgetary provision for S&T spending witnessed a 10 percent hike in the recent budget. During the budget 2011-12, the Ministry for S&T received a total of $1.03 billion (Rs5,679 crore). The allocation for DBT, DSIR, and DST was $254.54 million (Rs1400 crore), $350.90 million (Rs1930 crore), and $427.09 (Rs2349 crore) respectively.
The DBT, which is the nodal agency for promoting biotechnology in the country, has been spending around $254.54 million (Rs1,400 crore) each year, to support R&D and innovation. Besides that, about 30 percent of the overall funding goes into the public-private partnerships (PPPs).