National Research Foundation to be set up by HRD Ministry

To bolster India’s lack of contribution to the research world the HRD Ministry has proposed the establishment of an agency using an initial grant of Rs. 500 crore. The National Research Foundation has committed to use more of its industry resources to help about five hundred research proposals among to institutions in India including, NITs, IITs, IISERs along with reputed foreign universities. This would be in addition to the seed investment already being granted to the project, according to sources within the HRD ministry.

Why it is Being Done

As a nation with several institutions of higher learning, India has been severely lagging behind in terms of how much it spends on research, when compared on an international level. Only about o.85% of the nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is spent on activities related to academic research. This is quite stark when compared to countries like China, USA, Japan and Israel who spend 2.10%, 2.74%, 3.58% and 4.11% respectively towards the domain of research.

The result of this appalling lack of investment is very apparent in the fact that there are only about four filed patents per one million Indians. Again, this number seems even more shocking when we look at other countries like China, South Korea and Japan, who each file close to four-hundred, three-thousand, and two thousand patents respectively per one million population. The NRF aims to act as an umbrella concern which would then establish the priorities for research and provide over half of the required funds for research interests that are of the correct specifications and fill all the requirements for the same. Working alongside the Science and Engineering Research Board as well as Indian Council of Medical Research, The NRF would finance much of their endeavours in research. The programme known as IMPRINT, which has been facing certain financial constraints, would also be helped by the NRF. These statements were made by a ministry official who wished not to be identified.

Launched in 2016 along with a lot of gusto, fanfare and noise about how it would be an exemplary single window tool to get nation-specific research funded across national institutes such as IITs as well as other institutions of similar reputation, IMPRINT’s lack of success has been a major concern for the HRD Ministry. Only a pitiful 60 of the MoUs (Memorandum of Understanding) which had been signed as a part of this programme have taken off, this is out of a total of about 250 MoUs signed by various ministries which funded several educational institutes centrally. Most of the ministries which had committed to pitch about 50% of the require funds for research and technology development have not honoured these promises.

This proposal by the NRF was also taken the Prime Minister of India at the presentation made on the 13th of January, 2017. This was made by a group of secretaries who have been working on education. The HRD Ministry is looking forward to the NRF being announced as a part of the Union Budget on the 1st of February, 2017.


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