access to education and jobs (Bloom et al., 2003), a strong private sector with experience in market institutions, a well-developed legal and financial system, and a large science, technology, and research infrastructure. Another advantage is the country’s population of highly trained English-speaking engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs, and other professionals.
Countering India’s strengths are the many social, political, and economic obstacles with which it must contend. India remains a relatively poor country, with per capita income below $700, a less than 2 percent share of global GDP, and only a 1 percent share of world trade. Moreover, 80 percent of India’s population lives on less than $2 a day, with more than 50 percent of the total labor force still engaged in agriculture (CIA, 2010). Barriers to further growth and development are many and include limited infrastructure and access to water, food, and medicine, widespread illiteracy, threatened national security in the face of regional and ethnic tensions, and stifling government bureaucracy.
India has long embraced science and technology (S&T) as a means to improve the national economy and the lives of its citizens. This continued political commitment is documented on a basic level in the Scientific Policy Resolution of 1958, the Technology Policy Statement 1983, and the 2003 Science and Technology Policy of the Government of India. These three initiatives have led to the creation of a vast S&T infrastructure within government research and development (R&D) institutions, universities, nongovernmental organizations, and industry.
India’s system for S&T innovation is comprised of central and state government agencies as well as public and private organizations. However, the most significant role is played by the government, with a large number of organizations functioning under central government S&T departments. Figure 5-1 illustrates this organizational structure.
The Indian government is responsible for about 74 percent of national R&D expenditures; of that, the central government is responsible for the greatest share. The industrial sector (public and private) accounts for about 30 percent of total expenditures. The government has encouraged greater participation from the industrial sector over the past five years, which has led to a small increase in private R&D funding, although more is needed to meet larger S&T objectives.
Within India, there are about 400 national laboratories, 400 R&D institutions in the government sector, and about 1,300 R&D organizations in the industrial sector. About 400,000 personnel are employed in R&D establishments. India’s more than 300 universities and educational institutions produce more than 450,000 S&T personnel every year. However, at this stage, many of these institutions devote few resources to research, focusing primarily on development. Recognizing that India’s skill base is growing, more than 300 multinational companies have opened their R&D centers and laboratories in different sectors of the economy (World Bank, 2007). Some corporations have formed alliances with Indian institutions for joint research projects. Indians also continue to go abroad for education and business, and they are building networks for S&T through the private sector, using new business models and creative value creation.
India has not published a multi-year, long-range S&T plan. However, India’s planning commission has issued five-year plans since independence was achieved in 1947, each of which contains an important section on S&T. The plans discuss accomplishments and issues during the previous five years and propose initiatives for the next five years. Although India’s five-year plans offer flexibility, they provide little specific guidance on long-term S&T goals. Because the country is a democracy, the lack of stated long-term goals leaves India’s S&T strategy more vulnerable to interruption or dilution as a result of changes in administration.
India has a stated goal of becoming a developed nation by 2020, ambitiously aiming to be one of the top 5 countries in the world in terms of GDP. The five-year plans highlight S&T as a contributor to this long-term vision. The current plan (2007-2012) lays out a broad strategy for improving the national S&T environment by enlarging the pool of scientific manpower, encouraging risk taking on the part of scientists, supporting creativity in the education system, celebrating both basic research and applied research and technology development, encouraging industry to interact with academia, and providing incentives for young people to pursue scientific careers. Finally,