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National Research Foundation (NRF)

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Statutory Bodies/Issues Relating to Development and Management of Social Sector/Services Relating to Education


Source: PIB

 Context: The Union Cabinet, chaired by the PM of India, approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill 2023, to give the nation’s scientific research a strategic direction.


Highlights of the Bill: It will establish NRF and repeal the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) – subsuming it into the NRF.

  • SERB is a statutory body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST) established in 2009 (by the SERB Act, 2008).
  • It was set up for promoting basic research in science and engineering and to provide financial assistance to scientists, academic institutions, R&D laboratories, S&T start-ups, etc.
National Research Foundation (NRF)
AboutNRF will be established as an apex body at a total estimated cost of ₹50,000 crores from 2023-28 (the government will contribute ₹10,000 crores and ~₹36,000 crores are expected to come from the private sector as investments).
RecommendationNational Education Policy (NEP) 2020
Administrative departmentDST, Ministry of S&T
Governed byA Governing Board: The PM will be the ex-officio President of the Board and the Union Minister of S&T and Union Minister of Education will be the ex-officio Vice-Presidents. It will also consist of eminent researchers and professionals across disciplines.
An Executive Council: Chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
PurposeNRF will seed, grow and promote R&D and foster a culture of research and innovation throughout India’s universities, colleges, research institutions and R&D laboratories.
How?By prioritising research funding and ensuring that scientific research was conducted and funded equitably with greater participation from the private sector.

Currently, the IITs and IISc receive the majority of research funds, whereas State universities receive a very little portion (~10%).

By forging collaborations among the industry, academia, and government departments and research institutions and creating an interface mechanism for their participation and contribution.
By creating a policy framework and putting in place regulatory processes that can encourage collaboration and increased spending by the industry on R&D.
Significance/need of NRF/BillIndia barely spends 0.7% of its GDP on R&D, which is extremely low compared to the US (2.83%), China (2.14%), Israel (4.9%), Brazil, Malaysia and Egypt.
NRF will promote the democratisation of science funding, finding solutions to the big problems facing Indian society, etc.
The Bill was necessary because current laws made it hard for private research organisations to contribute to a funding body such as the NRF.

Insta Links:

R&D ecosystem in India


Mains Links:

Scientific research in Indian universities is declining, because a career in science is not as attractive as our business operations, engineering or administration, and the universities are becoming consumer-oriented. Critically comment. (UPSC 2014)