India ranks third among the most attractive investment destinations for technology transactions in the world. Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Department of Science & Technology, has reiterated that technology is a strong priority area for the government and it aims to make people science-centric. Modern India has had a strong focus on science and technology, realising that it is a key element of economic growth. India is among the topmost countries in the world in the field of scientific research, positioned as one of the top five nations in the field of space exploration. The country has regularly undertaken space missions, including missions to the moon and the famed Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).
Currently@, 27 satellites including 11 that facilitate the communication network to the country are operational, establishing India’s progress in the space technology domain. India is likely to take a leading role in launching satellites for the SAARC nations, generating revenue by offering its space facilities for use to other countries.
India ranks second in terms of contribution to high-quality scientific research. ^ It is among the world’s top 10 nations in the number of scientific publications. Position-wise, it is ranked 17th in the number of citations received and 34th in the number of citations per paper across the field of science and technology (among nations publishing 50,000 or more papers). The country is ranked ninth globally in the number of scientific publications and 12th in the number of patents filed.
India has been ranked as the top exporter of information and communication technology (ICT) services and second in innovation quality in 2017#. The country has moved up six places to 60th position in the Global Innovation Index (GII).
Innovation centres are quickly being set up in India by organisations around the world, backed by the Government of India’s move towards a digital economy and plenty of digital talent.##
The Government of India is extensively promoting research parks technology business incubators (TBIs) and (RPs) which would promote the innovative ideas till they become commercial ventures.
India’s Engineering R&D (ER&D) Globalization and Services market reached US$ 22.3 billion in 2016 and is set to rise to US$ 38 billion by 2020.* India has a total of 25 innovation centres in the country and has been ranked as the top innovation destination in Asia and second in the world for new innovation centres, according to a Capgemini report. The country accounts for 27 per cent of Asia’s new innovation centres.
India’s analytics industry is expected to touch US$ 16 billion by 2025 from the current US$ 2 billion, as per the National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom).
With support from the government, considerable investment and development has incurred in different sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, space research, and nuclear power through scientific research. For instance, India is gradually becoming self-reliant in nuclear technology. Recently, the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit-1 (KKNPP 1) with 1,000 MW capacity was commissioned, while the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Unit-2 (KKNPP-2) with 1,000 MW capacity is under commissioning.
Some of the recent developments in the field of science and technology in India are as follows:
- As per the Government records, the number of Indian scientists coming back to India to pursue research opportunities has increased from 243 in 2007-2012 to 649 between 2012 and 2017 . In the span of 5 years 649 Indian scientists have returned to pursue research opportunities.
- India’s space business to witness tremendous growth in the next five years, on the back of technology advancement, global space business opportunity and a sharp rise in Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) satellite launch capability.
- Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA) has approved projects US$ 320.89 million, of six institutions, which will be used to improve the research infrastructure in these institutions.
- Spending on artificial intelligence (AI) by Indian companies is expected to increase by 8-11 per cent over the coming 18 months backed by rising influence of AI-based solutions across verticals.@@
- GridRaster Inc, working in the virtual and augmented reality space, has raised US$ 2 million as seed funding, which will be used for marketing and product development.
- The state of Karnataka aims to become the electric vehicle (EV) capital of India with investments worth Rs 31,000 crore (US$ 4.76 billion) from companies focusing on research and development (R&D) and manufacturing of EVs in the state.
- India has successfully launched the GSAT-17 satellite, which carries communication payloads in C-band, Extended C-band and S-band to provide various services to the country.
- A five year technology fund with US$ 4 million yearly investment, called Israel India Innovation Initiative Fund (I4F), has been launched by India and Israel to boost bilateral ties.
- Mr Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Government of India, is planning to introduce biofuel vehicles for road and water transportation on a large scale and has already directed Niti Aayog to conduct a research on methanol-powered vessels like cars and ships developed by China.
- The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India has launched a scheme named ‘Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty’ (VAJRA), in a bid to bring together the Indian scientists abroad and India-based researchers for conducting joint researches in India.
- The Government of India aims to develop India into a global innovation hub by 2020 on the back of effective government measures taken to provide an enabling environment for growing research and development in India, says Mr Y. S. Chowdary, Minister of State for Science and Technology & Earth Sciences, Government of India.
THE ROAD AHEAD
India is aggressively working towards establishing itself as a leader in industrialisation and technological development. Significant developments in the nuclear energy sector are likely as India looks to expand its nuclear capacity. Moreover, nanotechnology is expected to transform the Indian pharmaceutical industry. The agriculture sector is also likely to undergo a major revamp, with the government investing heavily for the technology-driven Green Revolution. Government of India, through the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy-2013, among other things, aspires to position India among the world’s top five scientific powers. ‘Chandrayaan-II’, India’s space mission to moon, is set to take place between January-March 2018, stated Dr Jitendra Singh, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Government of India.