India has only 130,000 scientific researchers: minister

March 12th, 2008 - 5:14 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) India has a mere 130,000 scientific researchers against seven times that number in China, and the government is taking steps to address the imbalance, parliament was told Wednesday. “We have just 130,000 researchers against some 700,000 to 800,000 in China,” Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibil said during question hour in the Rajya Sabha.

“The Scandinavian countries have 7,000 researchers per million of population. In India, the figure is 156,” he added.

“The issue has to be addressed not just by the government but also by the private sector,” Sibal maintained.

He pointed out that while India spent 0.8 percent of its GDP on scientific research, the government contributed 80 percent of this.

Against this, the private sector in the US and China contributed 30 percent of what was spent on research.

“India’s public sector component is higher than anywhere else in the world,” Sibal said.

The main reason for the poor state of research in the country, he said, was that while the universities had grown two-and-a-half times in the last 25 years, their laboratory facilities had not kept pace.

“Twenty-five years ago, the universities accounted for 50 percent of the research that was being conducted and the national laboratories accounted for the balance. Today, the university has all but vanished,” Sibal said.

He hoped that the Rs.750 billion that had been allocated for science and technology in the budget for fiscal 2008-09 would help in putting research back on track.

He added that under the INSPIRE project his ministry had initiated, 10,000 students would be granted Rs.100,000 a year to acquire a bachelor’s and master’s degree in science.

“If they wish to continue, 1,000 positions will be created at the Ph.D level and they will thereafter be absorbed into the system,” he added.

“We have received 68,000 applications and these are currently being sifted.

“We are also reaching out to women by creating flexible work plans for expectant mothers whereby they can return to full-time work after three years. We are also contemplating a three month break for mothers during the board exams.”

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