S KrishnaswamyNov 23, 2020 15:26:19 IST
In direction of the tip of the yr, there’s normally a variety of speak round analysis and growth within the science and expertise area – beginning with the Nobel Prize bulletins in October. As prestigious and aspirational because the Nobel Prizes are, they don’t seem to be and shouldn’t be taken as reflections or metrics of analysis & growth (R&D) in any nation. This yr, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry noticed gene modifying expertise getting recognition, and supplied some good classes for the worldwide, and Indian R&D group.
In a primary, the Nobel went to 2 ladies — Emmanuelle Charpentier from France and Jennifer Doudna from the US.
Charpentier moved round fairly just a few labs within the US after which Europe earlier than she lastly acquired a place the place she might have her personal technician and lab, however by then she had already revealed her pioneering work on CRISPR-Cas9. She had additionally collaborated with Doudna after an opportunity assembly at a convention. Doudna moved from academia to trade and again to academia earlier than entering into her work on the CRISPR system. Collectively, they revealed their seminal work on CRISPR-Cas9 in 2012, whereby they indicated the great potential of this method for generalised gene modifying. Shortly after that, each spun off firms that might take ahead the functions a part of their primary science work, whereas they continued exploring and designing the system additional of their tutorial labs.
It’s tough to even think about these dynamics in India. R&D associated to the sciences wants a social and cultural setting aside from funding, which clearly can also be essential. The CRISPR-Cas applied sciences took off inside a brief period of eight years. To take ahead the concepts that these applied sciences promised, quite a few firms sprung up within the US, China and plenty of elements of the world, however not in India. As B R Ambedkar mentioned in a special context, “An thought wants propagation as a lot as a plant wants watering. In any other case, each will wither and die”.
The R&D funding State of affairs in India
The latest statistics put out by the Division of Science and Expertise (DST) present us with a glimpse of R&D funding in India. The Gross Expenditure on R&D (GERD) has been rising through the years. Nevertheless, the ratio of GERD to Gross Home Product (GDP) has remained under 0.8, whereas it was round 0.6 within the Nineties. This widely-used metric rose to round 0.8 in 2005, and has been roughly stagnant for the previous 5 years. Compared, the GERD to GDP ratios for different international locations are — Israel 4.9, South Korea 4.3, Japan 3.2, USA 2.7, China 2.2, and UK 1.7.
The ratio will not be the one downside, little doubt. However it might assist enormously if India might goal and obtain a GERD to GDP ratio of two.0 within the subsequent 10 years. For instance, China from a ratio of 0.6 in 1996 grew to 1.1 in 2002 and have become 2.0 in 2014. The ratio hides the precise absolute expenditure, contemplating China’s GDP in 2019 is 4.8 occasions that of India. Nonetheless, placing in extra money can get extra returns, supplied it’s finished correctly, with a long-term plan and never topic to the vagaries of the socio-political system.
Contributions of all concerned
From 2017-18, the GERD was primarily pushed by the Authorities sector, comprising the Central Authorities (which spent 45.4 %), enterprise enterprises (which spent 36.8 %), State Governments (which spent 6.4 %), Larger Training (which spent 6.8 %) and Public Sector Trade (4.6 %). The contributions from Enterprise Enterprises and Larger Training sector to the GERD is simply half that of the USA.
Because the 1965 music from Seekers goes, “Open up them pearly gates”, for these sectors have to pitch in additional in increasing India’s R&D functionality.
Even within the Central Authorities GERD, 93 % GERD contribution of Central authorities was incurred by 12 main scientific businesses, of which the Defence Analysis and Improvement Group (DRDO) accounted for the greatest chunk. (31.6 %). This was adopted by:
- Division of Area (DoS) accounting for 19 %
- Indian Council of Agriculture Analysis (ICAR), 11.1 %
- Division of Atomic Vitality (DAE), 10.8 %
- Council of Scientific and Industrial Analysis (CSIR), 9.5 %
- Division of Science and Expertise (DST), 7.3 %
- Division of Biotechnology (DBT), 3.7 %
- Indian Council of Medical Analysis (ICMR), 3.1 %
- Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), 2.3 %
- Ministry of Electronics and Info Expertise (MEITY), 0.8 %
- Ministry of Atmosphere Forest and Local weather Change (MoEFCC), 0.5 %
- Ministry of New and Renewable Vitality (MNRE), 0.1 %.
As Marcellus tells Horatio in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “One thing is rotten in Denmark”.
a few of India’s trendy challenges equivalent to farm productiveness, public well being (which has lately been uncovered to a fantastic extent by the pandemic), the rising demand for renewable vitality — on prime of risks posed by local weather change — one thing will not be proper if the departments concerned in these issues are contributing solely 1 / 4 of the already low GERD to options. India’s priorities and emphasis want to vary with evolving eventualities.
So is there nothing to be finished apart from twiddling thumbs and ready? To paraphrase Mao from a special scenario, “What issues the color of the cats so long as they catch the mice?”
India might borrow from the success of the Cuban biotech trade, which has a world popularity for producing progressive biotech merchandise for his or her well being care system. Cuba has a GERD-to-GDP ratio of about 0.8, like India, however throws heavy punches on the stage of a number of developed international locations together with the US. Analysts recognized three fundamental elements for growth of such a high-tech trade that yields each innovation and financial growth:
- Lengthy-term monetary dedication (with the state as investor, as in Cuba),
- Organizational integration, and
- Strategic management over the allocation of assets.
The identical methods allowed Korea to journey excessive within the semiconductor trade.
Comparable approaches have enabled the Indian Area Analysis Organisation (ISRO) to turn into globally aggressive in area applied sciences. So if India performs the sport proper, it might nicely be potential to get an even bigger bang for the buck till the time there may be an improve within the nation’s socio-economic setting.
The creator is a retired Professor of Bioinformatics from the Faculty of Biotechnology, Madurai Kamaraj College