THE GIST of Editorial for UPSC Exams : 24 February 2020 (Limits of funding: on private sector research funding (The Hindu))

Limits of funding: on private sector research funding (The Hindu)

  • Mains Paper 2:Education 
  • Prelims level: Startup India
  • Mains level: Role of private sector in education research funding 


  • That research and development in India is inadequate, in terms of money, personnel and ambition, isn’t news. 
  • The founders of independent India sought to base its development on science and technology. 
  • To this end, even at the expense of universal, free primary education, the country privileged esoteric research such as atomic energy and space over industrial technology, and tertiary research institutions — the IITs — over the spread of technical education in local languages. 
  • As a strategy with successes and setbacks, this also saw, as historians have noted, Indian Research and Development remain beholden to the government. 

Major objectives of the public funded research institutions: 

  • Publicly-funded research has always been encouraged to reinvent the wheel and customise technology to Indian realities, whereas private companies and industrial firms have rarely been incentivised to develop their own intellectual property. 
  • It is only after the turn of the millennium that policymakers have pondered on coaxing the private sector to invest more in Research and Development.
  • Public institutions contribute the lion’s share of Research and Development investment. In 2004-05, the private sector accounted for 28% of research spend; it was40% in 2016-17.
  • In most advanced economies, private Research and Development accounts for the bulk of investment in Research and Development. Moreover, relative to its income, 
  • India underspends on Research and Development compared to what the U.S. and China did when it had income levels comparable to India’s now. 
  • The Department of Science and Technology is mooting a fund that will match the private contributions in Research and Development.
  • A ₹40-crore target is on the anvil and the idea is that the private sector — Indian firms and foreign companies with Indian subsidiaries — would fund scientists in key academic institutions.

Getting private sector money into Research and Development: 

  • ‘Startup India’ and ‘Make in India’ were the buzzwords in the early years of the Modi government, there were attempts to have venture capitalists and government departments involved in scientific research, to pool money and invest in technology start-ups. 
  • But, unfortunately, this has not resulted in investment in creating intellectual property. 
  • Too much of India’s research investment is expended on a small pool of scientists in a limited number of institutions. 
  • The private sector has extremely limited capacity to absorb scientists and a limited risk-appetite to invest in futuristic technology. Private research funding is also boosted more by partnerships among companies rather than by centrally-funded research programmes. 
  • While private funding is increasing, it still has not reached a level where major central funding can make a significant impact. 
  • Many CSIR laboratories have had a long history of collaborating with companies to develop and transfer technology to industry, but here too, restrictions on how intellectual property and licence fees can be shared abound. 


  • Unless there is greater participation and cooperation at smaller levels among companies and government, central schemes may not be fruitful.

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General Studies Pre. Cum Mains Study Materials

Prelims Questions:

Q.1) With reference to the Dark Net (or Darknet), consider the following statements:
1. It refers to the deep hidden internet platform that is used for illegal activities by using the secret alleys of the onion router (ToR) to stay away from the surveillance of law enforcement agencies. 
2. The dark net is part of the greater deep web. The deep web encompasses all unindexed sites that don't pop up when you do an Internet search.

Which of the statements given above are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) None of the above

Ans: C
Mains Questions:
Q.1) What are the key objectives of the public funded research institutions? How private sector research funding can boost those institutions?