SHILLONG, Feb 22 � There is a greater emphasis and debate about India�s ancient scientific achievements these days, overlooking the modern India burdened by expensive scientific imports.
Union Minister for Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan was recently quizzed if the budget allocation of the past, towards Research and Development (R&D,) had anything to do with India�s scientific feat � if considered for the sake of a discussion that India was once a superpower in science and technology.
Vardhan does seem to think so and said that India was one of the top economies of the world from 1AD till the advent of British rule. India�s contribution, Vardhan said, at one point of time towards the global economy was about 30 per cent. He believes that with such resources at stake the allocation for scientific development could have been significant.
Now, when it comes to modern India � which is of primary concern to many � India allots a paltry 0.88 per cent of its total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) towards R&D.
USA, China, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Russia and other larger economies than India allocate more from its GDP towards R&D than New Delhi.
For instance, US alloted 2.79, China 1.98, Japan 3.35, UK 1.72, France 2.26, Germany 2.92, Russia 1.12 per cent of their total GDP towards R&D in 2014, according to World Bank data.
On the other hand, economies like South Korea, Israel and Chinese Taipei spend 4.35, 3.93 and 3.6 per cent respectively of their total GDP towards R&D, to cite some examples. These are some of the countries that could be termed as pioneers in science and technology in the present age and are inventing major technologies.
Vardhan said the budget allocation towards R&D in India cannot be increased in a matter of days. He, however, added that the �Make in India� is a good initiative and would help R&D.
He further pointed out that India is one of the five nations � US, China, Canada and Japan � which would be building the world�s largest telescope.
�We would be contributing Rs 1300 crore towards the project, but that would be in kind in the form of technologies and software,� the Minister said.
The Minister, moreover, lashed out at his critics saying it has become �fashionable to criticise� those who speak about India�s glorious past.
But realistically, what India needs more than reflection on its past, is injection of funds and patronage towards R&D as such �ancient India scientific feats� could not have come without a price.