India to raise scientific R&D spend to 2 percent of GDP

“Right now, we spend one percent of our GDP on scientific research and development. We intend to take this to two percent,” Minister of State for Earth Sciences Prithviraj Chavan said at a seminar on 'Harnessing Nanotechnology Business: Diaspora Contribution' on the opening day of the annual Pravasi Bharatiya Divas here.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will formally inaugurate the three-day meet on Friday that is being attended by 1,500 delegates.

Noting that “the people of India look to science to solve their problems”, Chavan said the country would focus on “five key challenges” in the future. “These are energy security, food security, water availability and quality, affordable healthcare for all and (counter) terrorism,” he added.

In this context, he pointed to the “convergence” with the effort to combat climate change and ensure energy security by focusing on alternative sources of energy. “What we are now talking about is not just science and technology but science, technology and innovation to translate what we do in our laboratories to practical solutions for the masses,” Chavan said. He added that President Pratibha Patil, in her address to a joint session of parliament last February, had called for a decade of innovation.

“We are now in the first year of that decade. I see a great future for science in India,” he contended, urging the diaspora to come on board this journey.  Tracing the growth of science and technology in India since independence in 1947, Chavan said there had been a “significant jump in the output of journals” since 2002, a key indicator the state of research in the country.

“From 15th place globally in 2002, we climbed to 10th place last year and hope to go to ninth place, ahead of Spain, this year. We are not satisfied with this and intend to go higher,” he said.

“As a generator of Intellectual Property by way of registering patents, we were at 25th place in 2000 and had climbed to 19th place in 2006,” Chavan pointed out, adding: “There is significant scope for improvement here.”

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