India needs to increase its spending on research and development to become a global leader

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Source: The post is based on an article “India needs to increase its spending on research and development to become a global leader” published in The Indian Express on 26th December 2022.

Syllabus: GS 3 – Science and Technology

Relevance: measures required by India to become the world leader

News: India will be heading the G20 and it has a great opportunity to showcase itself as a global leader or a Vishwa guru.

How can India become a world leader?

India needs to have military as well as technological superiority like the US. The US is currently the world leader due to its investment in research and development (R&D).

India is also heading towards technological innovation with the launch of the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). It aims to create an ecosystem to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the country.

However, India’s success depends on the amount being spent on R&D in relation to other G20 countries.

How have G20 countries performed in R&D?

Gross domestic expenditure on R&D (GERD) is the proposed measure to quantify a country’s commitment to R&D.

According to a report by UNESCO, the G20 nations accounted for 90.6 percent of global GERD in 2018. Global R&D expenditure has increased with the increase in Research Intensity from 1.43 per cent in 1998 to 1.72 per cent in 2018.

Amongst the G20 countries, the US is ahead with 36 percent on R&D expenditure followed by the EU (20 percent), and China (18 per cent) but India’s share is less than 1 percent of G20 R&D expenditure.

What can be the course of action for India?

India currently spends lots of money in subsidies through various schemes. Therefore, it needs to repurpose its massive expenditures on various subsidies towards research and innovation.

Moreover, India needs to learn from Israel, a non-G20 country that has the highest research intensity (RI) of over 5 per cent.

The government of Israel has played an important role in financing and in providing well-functioning frameworks for innovation particularly in SMEs. The innovation system in Israel has led to its economic growth and competitiveness.

Israel has become an example for the nations that despite being a smaller nation, sustainable growth can be achieved by prioritising investments in R&D.

Therefore, India along with technological development needs innovations that can safeguard its basic environment — land, water, and air.

Note: The percentage of expenditure on R&D of a country to their respective GDP provides the research intensity (RI). India is ranked 17th in the G20 with a RI of 0.65 per cent.

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