“The Indian industry is yet to contribute substantially to R&D as in advanced countries. India Inc should bear at least one-third cost of the scientific work,” Rao said at the 103rd Indian Science Congress being held in the 700-acre University of Mysore campus, about 140 km from Bengaluru.
Delivering the Bharat Ratna Sir M. Vishveshwaraya lecture on “Doing Science in India”, the 83-year-old scientist said the country could emerge on top in the next 10-15 years if the academia, industry and the government work hard and in tandem with the scientific community.
Based on his experience, Rao recalled that though he worked for 65 years in research, with 57 years in the country as a professor, he did not get even Rs.10 from the industry.
“Ironically, industry in the overseas funded his research in Britain and the US. Industry should take interest in science and education than we all blaming the government for lack sufficient funds,” he said.
Rao is an alumni of the 100-year-old University of Mysore as was the country’s second president Sarvepalli Radhakrishna.
“There is no country of our size and challenges we face in feeding the poor, reducing inequality and competing with other countries. If we can get our act together, we can still do it, develop new technologies and innovate new products and solutions,” Rao told about 5,000 delegates at the five-day event’s first plenary session.
Admitting that the quantum of scientific research was stagnant despite having more institutions across the country, the chemistry professor said that in contrast, China would surpass the US soon on publishing scientific papers even as South Korea was catching up.
“Though the number of scientific papers from our country is also increasing, their quality is much to be desired,” Rao observed.
Regretting that investment on education was a mere 2 percent of the GDP (gross domestic product), the former scientific advisor to the prime minister said only a fraction of it (0.4 percent) was spent on higher education.
“Unless we all invest in education and improve science and technology institutions, how can we promote start-ups and innovate products and solutions,” Rao asked the stakeholders.
Observing that Indian science was not doing as well as in the past, Rao said citations of the research produced in the country were not up to global benchmarks.
“We have to look at science differently and in areas where we can make name with our research contribution to the world,” he said.
Noting that budgets for atomic energy and space science was more, Rao appealed to the prime minister and the finance minister to allocate more funds to than on basic or applied science.
“I have nothing against big science (atomic or space) but needs of small science (basic and applied) cannot be overlooked in terms of budgetary allocations though these are policy issues,” he said.