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National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha

GS Paper 3

 Syllabus: Science and Technology

 

Source: TH

Context:  The Anusandhan National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha. It will establish NRF and repeal the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) – subsuming it into the NRF.

 

What is NRF?

The National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill is a proposed legislation aimed at establishing the NRF as an apex body to provide strategic direction for scientific research in India, following the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP).

 

Aim: It seeks to allocate ₹50,000 crore over five years for promoting research and innovation across various levels of research institutions, colleges, and universities in the country.

 

More about NRF: 

Importance of the Bill:

  • Stimulate increased industry investment in research and development (R&D).
  • Foster partnerships between industry, academia, and government divisions.
  • Advocate research across natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, and the arts to nurture creativity.

 

Issues with the Bill:

Issues Examples
Corporate InfluencePrivate sector funding (70% allocation) may prioritize profit-driven research, hindering societal benefit.
Centralized Decision-MakingLack of diverse and pluralistic research approaches due to centralization.
Neglecting State ParticipationThe exclusion of state higher education councils and state governments may undermine cooperative federalism.
Limited Focus on Public GoodNRF’s heavy reliance on corporate funding may neglect research for public welfare.
Inadequate Research EvaluationClosed peer reviews without broader public engagement may hinder effective knowledge utilization.
Disconnect from Government GoalsLack of alignment with the government’s 2% GDP target for R&D, hindering national development.
Uncertain Funding MechanismThe private sector’s notional commitment to funding lacks transparency and enforceability.

 

Conclusion:

 For the NRF to achieve its intended impact, a balanced approach is necessary. While private sector involvement is crucial, it should be complemented by increased public investment in research and development.

 

About SERB

  • It 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 assistanceto scientists, academic institutions, R&D laboratories, S&T start-ups, etc.

 

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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)