Indian scientists decry spending plan

first_img Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Science spending in India is slated to rise 11% in the 2016–17 fiscal year to $1.19 billion, according to the budget proposal presented yesterday by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. But many observers point out that inflation—projected to run at least 5% in the coming year—will consume much of the increase and that far greater investments are needed to revamp crumbling infrastructure.“We have very few laboratories and institutions comparable to the best in the world. We need to provide much more support for improving this state,” says C.N.R. Rao, a chemist and science adviser to the previous prime minister, Manmohan Singh, in Bengaluru. Others say the spending increase is better than expected. “We are more than happy,” says Krishnaswamy VijayRaghavan, secretary of India’s Department of Biotechnology in New Delhi, which got a 10% hike. “We can tap funds from various other programs, which will take care of new initiatives.”The big winners are agricultural research, slated to rise 19% and earth sciences and renewable energy, each set to increase 16%. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Emailcenter_img Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Others programs will at best tread water. The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, which runs a network of 38 national labs, will get a 4.6% increase, in line with orders it received last year to self-finance half its budget within the next 2 to 3 years. And two areas accustomed to lavish government spending—space research and atomic energy—will barely best inflation with increases of 6.6% and 5.09%, respectively. That rise “would mean no new programs can be initiated,” says Anil Kakodkar, former chair of the Atomic Energy Commission in Mumbai. Last year, he quit the governing board of the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, over allegations of political interference in the selection process of directors. A budgetary pall hangs over academia as well. Although the higher education sector overall is set to receive a 12% increase to $ 2.24 billion, most of that rise will go to increasing teaching capacity to cope with India’s burgeoning population. “University research will face serious challenges,” predicts Amitabha Mukherjee, head of the department of physics and astrophysics at the University of Delhi. “We do not buy new equipment, cannot maintain existing ones well, do not upgrade laboratories, and cannot even get good external speakers unless they are visiting Delhi since we cannot afford to pay even for their inland air travel.”India’s parliament will review the budget proposal this month and is expected to pass a 2016–17 budget in time for the start of the fiscal year on 1 April. Hearings could be contentious, as the budget documents presented yesterday are “somewhat opaque”: lacking details on expenditures that budget documents in previous years normally contained, says Dinesh Abrol, coordinator of the Sustainability Program at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. “In the absence of details, I wonder how the parliament will be able to discuss the science budget and articulate national science priorities,” he says.last_img


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *