Budget 2021

National Research Foundation to boost research, innovation

TV Jayan New Delhi | Updated on July 05, 2019

Driving research   -  V Sreenivasa Murthy

As per the proposed plan, the NRF will have four major divisions — sciences, technology, social sciences and arts and humanities

The government has plans to set up a National Research Foundation (NRF) with an aim to catalyse and energise research and innovation across all academic disciplines, particularly at the university and college levels, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said during her maiden Budget speech on Friday.

“NRF will assimilate the research grants being given by various Ministries independent of each other. NRF will ensure that the overall research ecosystem in the country is strengthened with focus on identified thrust areas relevant to our national priorities and towards basic science without duplication of effort and expenditure,” she said.

While inaugurating the 106th session of Indian Science Congress in Phagwara in Punjab in January this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked his scientific advisory council to come up with a plan to improve research climate in State universities where 95 per cent of Indian university students study.

The idea for setting up the NRF was first mooted in the draft National Education Policy (NEP) 2019, which said an annual grant of ₹20,000 crore, nearly 0.1 per cent of GDP, should be set aside for it. NRF will have autonomy to set its own finance, governance rules and statutes. The initial grant available to NRF will be increased progressively over the next decade as India’s capacity to do quality research grows, NEP suggested.

As per the proposed plan, the NRF will have four major divisions — sciences, technology, social sciences and arts and humanities. Other additional divisions such as agriculture and environment can be added if the governing board of the NRF feels so.

The NEP had expressed concern that India spends only around 0.69 per cent of its GDP in research and innovation whereas countries such as the US (2.8 per cent), China (2.1 per cent) and Israel (4.3 per cent) spend a much higher proportion of their GDP in research.

Published on July 05, 2019

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