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National Science Day- 2024 UPSC NOTE

 National Science Day 2024

  • National Science Day in India is celebrated on February 28th every year. 

Significance:

  1. Honors the discovery of the Raman Effect by Indian physicist Sir C.V. Raman on February 28th, 1928.

  2. Celebrates the importance of science and its impact on society.

  3. Encourages scientific temper and curiosity, especially in young people.

  • Theme: Indigenous Technology for Viksit Bharat.

Typical Celebrations:

  • Science exhibitions and seminars in schools, colleges, and research institutions.

  • Lectures and talks by prominent scientists.

  • Open houses and public demonstrations at science centers and museums.

  • Science quiz competitions and other science-related events.

How much do developed countries spend on research and development?

  • Funding for fundamental research in India is amongst the world’s lowest.

  • Particularly for a country with high science and technology ambitions. 

  • In the recent past, India’s R&D expenditure has dropped to the current 0.64% of GDP from 0.8% in 2008-2009 and 0.7% in 2017-2018. 

  • This reduced expenditure is worrying considering government agencies themselves have issued several calls to double this spending.

  • The 2013 Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy noted that “Increasing Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) to 2% GDP has been a national goal for some time”. 

  • The 2017-2018 Economic Survey reiterated this in its chapter on science and technology transformation

  • The reasons for the reduction in R&D spending despite the government being cognisant of the need to increase it are not clear, but may stem from a lack of coordination between government agencies and a need for stronger political will to prioritise R&D expenses.

  • Most developed countries spend between 2% and 4% of their respective GDPs on R&D

  • In 2021, member-countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on average spent 2.7% of their GDP on R&D. 

  • The U.S. and the U.K. have consistently spent more than 2% of their GDPs on R&D for the past decade

  • Many experts have called for India to spend at least 1%, but ideally 3%, of its GDP every year until 2047 on R&D for science to have a meaningful impact on development.

Has the Ministry of Science and Technology consistently under-utilised its budget?

  • Science requires consistent, large-scale investment to bear fruit

  • For India to reach the ‘developed nation’ status, it needs to spend more to scale R&D than developed countries spend to maintain that status. 

  • This is the foundation of the demand to spend at least 3% of the GDP on R&D annually until 2047.

  • And beyond the current spending being inadequate, its primary dependence on public money signals an immature financing system and weak domestic market

  • In 2020-2021, the private sector industry contributed 36.4% of the GERD whereas the Union government’s share was 43.7%. State governments (6.7%), higher education (8.8%), and the public sector industry (4.4%) were the other major contributors.

  • In economically developed countries, a major share — 70% on average — of R&D investment comes from the private sector

  • The hesitancy of private-sector funding may be because of the poor capacity to evaluate R&D in India, ambiguous regulatory roadmaps that can deter investors, lack of clear exit options for investors in sectors such as biotechnology, and fears of intellectual property rights theft.

  • While the Anusandhan National Research Foundation was meant to solve some of the financial issues, its implementation has been delayed. 

  • The ₹2,000 crore annual budget the government earmarked for its implementation in the last budget was revised to ₹258 crore this year

  • Strategies for how the remaining budget of ₹7,200 crore from the private sector is to be raised have not been clarified yet. 

  • Thus, there is a perceived need to determine the overall quantum of R&D funding and its primary sources, given India’s ambition to be a developed country by 2047.

How much does the private sector contribute to India’s R&D funding?

  • While the need for India to at least double its R&D investment has been expressed several times, the question of how effectively the allocated money is spent is explored less often.

  • The Union Ministry of Science and Technology has consistently under-utilised its budget

  • So, while the calls for increased funding — through both government and private sources — are legitimate, a strengthened budget utilisation is also required to affect science outcomes.

  • In 2022-2023, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) used 72% of its estimated budget allocation on centrally sponsored schemes/projects while the Department of Science and Technology (DST) used only 61%. 

  • The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR), which receives the lowest allocation for centrally sponsored schemes, spent 69% of its allocation.

  • Such underutilisation is not a one-time error but has been consistently recorded over several years to varying degrees. 

  • The phenomenon is also not specific to the Science Ministry; given that India generally under-spends on R&D, there will likely be a major impact if the allocated funds are spent optimally.

  • The reasons for under-utilisation, as with under-allocation, are unclear and may indicate tedious bureaucratic processes for approving disbursements.

  • Lack of capacity to evaluate projects or clear utilisation certificates, lack of prioritisation for science funding by the Ministry of Finance or inadequate planning or implementation strategy

for the requested funds by the Ministry of Science and Technology.

  • The lack of capacity also reflects in delays in grant and salary disbursements. 

  • Most of these issues can be fixed by proper capacity building within different governmental agencies.

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: National Science Day- 2024 UPSC NOTE
National Science Day- 2024 UPSC NOTE
Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam
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