No, funding for science in India or DST has not been increased to 2% of GDP

Research

A news item published in Deccan Herald newspaper on April 7, 2017 about Indian government all set to increase research and development funding from 1% of GDP to 2% of GDP from 2017 onwards is not only too good to believe but is also factually incorrect. The paper quotes Department of Science and Technology (DST) Secretary Ashutosh Sharma as saying this.

Government to increase R&D spend to 2% of GDP

Bengaluru, Apr 7, 2017, DHNS: 22:58 IST

The Centre has decided to increase research and development funding from the current 1% of GDP to 2% from this year onwards, said Department of Science and Technology (DST) Secretary Ashutosh Sharma.

Speaking at the Global R&D Summit 2017, organised by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India and Ficci, on Thursday, Sharma said that increase in the R&D funding is primarily to focus on innovation.

But it is indeed correct that DST funding has nearly doubled from Rs.2,500 crore to Rs.4,800 crore in the last three-and-half years.

A news website reproduced this news item today and embellished it with its own version saying: “Centre has decided to increase DST research funding from the current 1% of GDP to 2% of GDP from this year onwards”.  It has provided a link to the Deccan Herald news item at the end.

DH1-OptimizedFunding for science has remained static at 0.8% for a very long time.  One of the reasons why scientists in India came out in large numbers in many cities on August 9 to March for Science was to demand for an increase in science funding.

“I had only said that it was a longstanding wish and demand to increase funding for science from nearly 1% of GDP to 2% of GDP,” Prof. Sharma tells me. “And who am I to announce this increase in funding by the government.”

News about this increase has been making the rounds for the last few months, possibly after Deccan Herald published it in April. And I have seen this been shared a few times on Facebook and had ignored it.

But today was different. I was tired after a long day of reading several journal papers on Japanese Encephalitis vaccine and talking to numerous people to check and cross-check details. And then in a momentary lapse in judgement, I shared the Facebook post. Shared it without reading, which I never do. Phew, in a matter of an hour, it was shared by over 50 people and nearly 10 people had commented on it. Many expressed surprise, and relief.

And that is when I realised my mistake. When funding for science in India stood at 0.8%, how could funding for DST alone be increased to as high as 2% of GDP! That would mean that funding for science has been increased several fold for DST funding to reach 2% of GDP, which is IMPOSSIBLE. And how did I not realise this in the first place.

I immediately deleted the post to minimise the damage and wrote a fresh post apologising for the mistake and conveying the correct message. I will remain embarrassed for a very long time.

This is the take-home message for me from this episode: When tired, shut down the damn computer and take a break or rest for a while and NEVER ever share anything on Facebook or send a mail or …

One thought

  1. I really wish our government spends more money on factual science and pushes serious research forwards and moves on over pseudoscience. Long leap I guess. Thanks for this article! And yes Facebook is kind of getting full of fake news nowadays. Looks like we need to take your last advice very seriously

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