Step up expenditure on R&D, says Pranab

India spent only 0.9% of GDP on R&D

Step up expenditure on R&D, says Pranab

Voicing concern over India lagging behind in innovation, President Pranab Mukherjee on saturday made a strong pitch to step up expenditure on research in a big way and also asked the private sector to increase its share.

“India’s bottom-line is not very encouraging as the number of patent applications filed annually in leading countries like the US and China is roughly 12 times that of our country,” he said, addressing the National Technology Day function here. The National Technology Day is celebrated to commemorate a series of controlled underground nuclear tests conducted by India on May 11 and May 13, 1998 at Pokhran.

Mukherjee said India spent only 0.9 per cent of the GDP on research and development (R&D), which was much below that of China, UK and Israel.

“We should step up our expenditure on research to pursue innovation in a big way,” he said at the function attended by Science and Technology Minister S Jaipal Reddy, a number scientists, entrepreneurs and students. He said the private sector, which contributed one-fourth of the country’s expenditure on R&D, should also increase their share of spending to levels prevalent in countries such as Japan, the US and South Korea.

“We must make sure we have the capacity to compete, to innovate and to deliver on time. If our systems are strong and robust, the world will respect us and be willing to work with us,” Mukherjee said. He said the capacity to innovate has to become a part and parcel of India’s growth and development process.  Mukherjee said he believes that India can meet the challenges of sustainable inclusive growth by using innovation and technology as key drivers and enablers of growth.

“Our priorities for innovation should be conditioned by our socio-economic realities. The Indian innovation strategy, therefore, has to be different. It should focus on generating ideas that promote inclusive growth and benefit people at the bottom of the socio-economic pyramid,” he said. Listing the steps taken by the government to create an innovation eco-system, he said besides starting a Rs 5000-crore Inclusive Innovation Fund, 20 innovation clusters were being set up in the country.

An India Innovation web portal was being created to serve as depository of innovations and platform for exchange of ideas, Mukherjee said. “A strong eco-system for supporting innovation activity will require enthusiastic support and committed participation of all stakeholders,” he said, adding that public, private and education sectors must be willing contributors to such efforts.

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