The Indian economy and is set to achieve the $5 trillion GDP goal in the near term. The National Budget to be presented in a few days is crucial for ensuring the country’s inclusive and balanced growth.

The Prime Minister has emphasised Innovation, by adding ‘Jai Anusandhan’ to ‘Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan, Jai Vigyan’. How do we translate that vision into reality? When innovation becomes part of the DNA of an economy, it has the capability to generate wealth on a sustainable basis. We, India, must become that economy!

While much is being done by the government in enabling industry, academia, research laboratories and start-ups individually, much more can be achieved by creation of a National Research Quad (NRQ).

Budget Day could be an opportunity to announce the setting up of the NRQ headed by the Govt. and governed through an Advisory Council.

The target is to scale up the investment in national R&D from 0.7 per cent to 4 per cent of GDP by 2047 with an interim goal of 2.5 per cent by 2030 with industry contributing the majority.

The way ahead

Some suggestions to achieve this are:

(i) Enhance spending on institutes of higher learning for cutting-edge research: We must provide our research students and professors with the requisite research facilities. Genuine failure must be permitted; even applauded. Only then, will we be able to retain the best brains for research.

(ii) Enhance funding to ministries to set up incubators in institutes of higher learning: Various ministries — especially the Ministry of Heavy Industry — have already set up incubators and accelerators in several institutes of higher learning. The review and monitoring of these incubators and accelerators is done by independent expert committees, which must be encouraged further.

3. Setting up of an India Intellectual Property Think-Tank: Our traditional knowledge of artisans — handicrafts, indigo dyeing and other arts and crafts — as well as of innovators in rural areas needs to be protected. It would be appropriate that a mechanism be created to synergise the efforts and IP policies of various wings of publicly funded institutions.

4. Introduce an element of Research Linked Incentive (RLI) : Just like the PLI scheme, it would be useful to introduce RLIs that would ensure industry innovates.

For India to be truly competitive and wealthy, Anusandhan is the vehicle on which it is has to ride and the National Research Quad will have a vital role to play.

The writer is Chairman, CII National Mission on Technology, Innovation, and Research