Wednesday, March 02, 2016

India Science budget Proposal- 2016


Scientists all over the world are going through a financial bottle neck. There are too many qualified bonafide researchers with far less tenure positions to accommodate. India is not different. With pressure mounting for better and larger scale of research there is increased need for funding and annual country budgets are looked upon with great interest. This year's Budget proposal has met with mixed emotions from a variety of sectors. Here's a peak into Research R&D budget.

The budget proposal this month is currently under consideration and is expected to be revised and passed the start of the fiscal year on 1 April. This budget has seen an increase for Science and technology. The major departments to get an upgrade include agricultural research Earth sciences and Department of Health Research’s. See Fig 1 below for comparison of budget proposal (with reference to 2015 fiscal year).

Fig 1: Budget Proposal comparison for Financial year 2015 vs 2016. Based on numbers provided in source
It has been noted by many that India is rapidly becoming a research place of interest, but to cope with scenario we need a greater rise, though some have commented that this is a healthy increase. Academia and academic research needs a better budget. Though there is a overall increase by about 12% to academia most of it will be channeled to support Man power for teaching. Amitabha Mukherjee comments, University research will face serious challenges, We do not buy new equipment, cannot maintain existing ones well, do not upgrade laboratories, and cannot even get good external speakers unless they are visiting Delhi since we cannot afford to pay even for their inland air travel.” Moreover, the proposal includes installation of new world class research facilities and upgrade existing one's.

Fig 2: Scientific workforce in India in comparison to other countries. Source
There a numerous barriers for current Indian science. There was a severe bashing of the poor quality of scientific temper in the country in a 2015 article. I agree with most of the comments and observation made. There is a need for massive boost and a mere less than 20% increase will not be sufficient considering the inflation and rising scientific standards all over the world. As a matter of fact India stands behind countries like Kenya, Chile and Brazil in terms of Scientific workforce. The Fig 2, speaks for itself. And nothing much has improved in comparison to last year.

In conclusion, there is an opinion circulating that this is a draft and there will be changes. So it maybe early to comment. Overall, there is a mixed reaction. It is my personal opinion that a couple of million rupee increase mayn't do much. There is a need for real large scale increase, especially if we want to boast for ourselves as a developing scientific nation.

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