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Indian Parliament Approves National Research Foundation



  Feb 07, 2024

Indian Parliament Approves National Research Foundation



India’s Parliament recently approved the establishment of the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (NRF) through the Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill, 2023. This development aims to enhance research funding in universities, colleges, institutes, and laboratories across the country, with a focus on increasing support for meagerly funded institutions.

Key Points:

1. NRF is modeled after the US National Science Foundation and is expected to inject 500 billion rupees (US$6 billion) into research funding over the next five years. Notably, 70% of this funding is anticipated to come from non-government sources, including industry and philanthropists.

2. India’s low private sector funding for research has been a factor contributing to its low spending on research and development (R&D), which currently stands at 0.7% of GDP, one of the lowest in the world. The majority of research funding (about 60%) comes from government sources.

3. NRF aims to address this imbalance by directing more funding towards state universities, which have been overshadowed by larger institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology.

4. While NRF has potential, experts express skepticism about industry buy-in. Convincing the private sector to invest in an external agency poses a challenge, and existing Corporate Social Responsibility funds allocated to science are limited.

5. The NRF bill’s governance structure has also raised concerns, as it deviates from India’s National Education Policy 2020, which proposed an independent governing board. The NRF board is now mandated to include India’s prime minister and other ministry officials.

6. NRF replaces the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and expands its scope to include humanities and social sciences in addition to STEM fields. Some worry this expansion might dilute funding for basic STEM research.

7. Experts call for greater transparency and accountability in NRF’s management and emphasize the need to increase India’s overall science R&D budget, aiming for more than 1% of the country’s GDP.

The scientific community expects to be well-informed about NRF’s various elements and funding opportunities, including details of scientific proposal management.

SRIRAM’s


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