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India plans to expand the scientist community

si Team
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
si Team
India has made tremendous advancements in science and technology, and Indian scientific research and technological developments since independence in 1947 have received substantial political support and funding from the government. However official statistics show a yawning gap in the number of scientists in India when compared to other countries.

The number of scientific researchers in India is far less than that in China, which has almost seven times that number. “We have just 130,000 researchers against some 700,000 to 800,000 in China,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of our parliament. “The issue has to be addressed not just by the government but also by the private sector,” Sibal maintained. While India spent 0.8 percent of its GDP on scientific research, the government had contributed 80 percent of it. Against this, the private sector in the U.S. and China contributed 30 percent of what was spent on research. “India’s public sector component is higher than anywhere else in the world,” Sibal said.

The main reason for the poor state of research in the country, he said, was that while the universities had grown two-and-a-half times in the last 25 years, their laboratory facilities had not kept pace.An amount of $17 billion had been allocated for science and technology in the country’s budget for fiscal 2008-09 to put research back on the track. He added that under the INSPIRE project his ministry had initiated, 10,000 students would be granted $2500 a year to acquire a bachelor’s and master’s degree in science. “If they wish to continue, 1,000 positions will be created at the Ph.D. level and they will thereafter be absorbed into the system,” he added.

“We are also reaching out to women by creating flexible work plans for expectant mothers, whereby they can return to full-time work after three years.”

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