Hyderabad: While Covid-19 vaccine research has been the focus for the past one year around the globe including India, the research scenario in general in the country does not present a bright picture. India has just 253 scientists/researchers per million population, way behind smaller Asian countries like Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Vietnam.
According to a reply given in parliament, India is far behind Asian countries like Republic of Korea (7,980 scientists per million), Singapore (6,803), Japan (5,331), UAE (2,379), Malaysia (2,397) and Iran (1,475). Cambodia (30) has the least number of scientists per million population in Asia, followed by Sri Lanka (106).
Small countries like Qatar (577), Kuwait (514), Oman (281), Vietnam (708) and even the neighbouring Pakistan (336) have better presence of scientists in their nations.
The reply given in parliament revealed that expenditure on research & development activities in the country is $68.2 billion.
Responding to the data, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) director Rakesh Mishra said the funding for research activities in the country is much less than needed.
“There has been thinking that research activities should be given 2% of the GDP but that never happens. We are not given even 0.5% of the GDP,” he said.
A vast country like India needs more funds in proportion to population, he added.
He suggested that science and technology departments of the state governments, which are currently inactive, should also allocate funds and grants whenever needed for research.
Dr Kiran Madala, a certified researcher with Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said that there is a need to increase funding and focus on health research. “Research needs to be focused on what society needs. Many district level and big government hospitals have patients in bigger numbers than private hospitals. Even at such hospitals, research should be encouraged,” he said.
Experts also said that there is a need for increased funding from private sector for research like in USA.
“Now, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds are allowed to be used for research projects. That will improve the situation but private sector has to allocate more money,” Mishra observed.