Bangalore: With Israel spending 4.53 percent, Sweden 3.73 percent, Finland 3.45 percent, Japan 3.39 percent, and South Korea 3.23 percent respectively of their GDP on research; India spends just 0.9 percent of its GDP on research and ranks 34th in the global spending on research and development. The statistics express the state of the country, the degree of competition and the passion to progress in the field of research.
Research has made its presence felt in each and every field; from businesses to services, and from the private to public sector. Studies have shown that firms with a persistent research strategy outperform those with an irregular or no research investment programme. Despite having top positions in various fields like exports of services (10th), nominal GDP (9th), purchase power parity (4th), farm outputs (2nd) and all its efforts to become the next superpower, why does it lag in the field of research?
India's dismal position in the global research map is highlighted in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by the National Knowledge Commission (NKC) Chief, Sam Pitroda. Pitroda also highlights that there is an uneven quality of PhDs across institutions, to a point where PhDs can be purchased. If such people join the pool of researchers, what will the standard of research in India be, and what about the quality of the products and services? The dismal position can be attributed to the fact that many students feel that PhD in India takes too much of time, research work in India is poor, and the market value is low. The lengthy PhD programme has resulted in around one percent of the undergraduates going in for it, as there are better-paid industries. For many students intending to get a doctorate, the goal is go to the U.S. or Europe, as there is more scope and more of support provided over there.
In other countries, researchers are paid huge sum and they spend years altogether on research. These researchers are encouraged by their government to carry forward the research for the betterment of the country that they prefer to stick on to research rather than working elsewhere. But in India, since the research scenario is not upto the mark, people who have received their doctorates work as associates, or as lecturers, and gradually tend to move on to other fields, which pay them well. In IITs, considered one of the premier institutes, the average salary for B.Tech graduates has reached record levels, as compared to their PhD fellows, most of who ended up joining research labs or signed up for teaching positions. In U.S. on an average, the salary for students with a master's degree is 22 to 26 percent higher than that of that of a undergraduate, and the salary of doctorate students is 45 to 58 percent higher than other students.
For a country, research is not just a profit generator, but a long-term investment, which will bring revenues for the country in years to come. For a product-based company, research helps to know what products and services are actually needed by the customers, which is a cheaper option than manufacturing products and getting to know it is not the right one. It helps companies to decide on the right price for the products, as products which are not researched upon end up being priced exorbitantly and are not upto the industry standard. It helps to develop a fair and proper pricing policy to survive in the market. Due to lack of research, Indian products fail to bridge the gap between the product and the faith of the customers, which ends up driving customers towards MNCs.
Investment in research helps companies to foresee the upcoming changes and device strategies and processes bring about or adapt to changes. Despite this, Indian IT companies spend less than one percent of their revenues on R&D.
Research would also help companies focusing on outsourcing to create robust methodologies, and technologies from the supplier or vendor's perspective. Software companies, who encourage research, will be able to look beyond reliability and dependability of vendors, and develop alternative approaches to software development which will enhance productivity and quality.
In the Indian scenario, the essential challenge in front of companies is "How to conduct research (in-house or having an independent research body)?" This leads us to another vital question, "Who all would constitute the research group?" The biggest roadblock comes with regards to the funding of the research.
According to Zinnov, a leading management consulting company, India has almost 35 percent lesser operating costs, as compared to China, and is becoming one of the most sought-after centers for research for MNCs. So, why can't the government also show its interest and boost the domain? What is stopping India from beefing investments in research and matching the global standards? Is it the lack of interests, funds, or mere ignorance? Whatever it be, one thing is sure, that if India wants to be at par with the other countries in terms of development, it has to invest more of its time and money in research.