India’s R&D funding, breaking down the numbers


India’s recent budget plan for 2024-25 includes a whopping ₹1 lakh crore for improving research and innovation. This shows how much the government values research for the country’s progress.


GS-02 GS-03 (Government policies and interventions, Research and development)

Mains Question:

Critically analyze India’s research and development (R&D) landscape highlighting the role of government funding, private sector involvement, and the potential for innovation-driven growth. (250 words)

Dimensions of the Article:

  • India’s R&D Landscape: A Closer Look
  • Government vs. Private Sector

India’s R&D Landscape: A Closer Look:

  • India’s research and development (R&D) scenario is quite interesting.
  • Even though the country do not spend much on R&D compared to its GDP (0.64%), it is doing well in terms of producing good number of PhDs and research papers.
    • India has ranked third globally in these areas, which shows it has got strong research system.
  • However, the India Innovation Index 2021 has a different story.
    • It shows that India’s R&D spending is lower than what’s considered normal worldwide.
    • Currently, it is at 0.64% of GDP, which has dropped from 0.8% in 2008-2009.
    • Compared to the world average of about 1.8%, India’s spending is quite low.
    • The Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy (STIP) of 2013 aimed to increase R&D spending to 2% of GDP, but we are still far from that goal.
  • India’s spending on Research and Development (R&D) has increased, reaching ₹12,73,810 million in 2020-21. Also, India is the sixth country when it comes to granting patents, which shows it’s becoming more innovative.

Government vs. Private Sector:

  • The government mainly funds R&D in India, giving money to important scientific agencies and labs.
  • But compared to other countries, the private sector in India doesn’t invest much in R&D. 
  • In 2020–2021, the private sector in India contributed 36.4% of the country’s gross expenditure on research and development (GERD).

  • While the government contributed 43.7%, state governments 6.7%, higher education 8.8%, and public sector industry 4.4%. The government sector is the main driver of GERD.

Way forward:

  • To make India more innovative and boost the economy, we need better cooperation between universities and businesses.
  • Even though universities don’t spend much on R&D, working together more could help India become even more innovative.
  • India’s aspirations for technological advancement and global competitiveness hinge on a transformative shift in its R&D ecosystem. Initiatives such as the National Deep Tech Startup Policy (NDTSP) and the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF) Act signal the government’s commitment to catalyzing research and innovation.
  • By incentivizing private sector-led research and fostering collaboration between diverse stakeholders, India can leverage its strengths to emerge as a global hub for innovation and technological excellence.