Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a speech yesterday at the Platinum Jubilee (75th anniversary) of the National Academy of Sciences (one of India's three -- three! -- science academies).
The Hindu reports [Thanks to Vishnu for helping me fix the broken link]:
"How can we achieve our development goal if we do not perform well in the field of basic sciences," Dr. Singh asked, pointing at the standard of research in the universities and even in the IITs.
What worried the Prime Minister more was the "divorce" between research and teaching, which was hampering the growth of the spirit of inquisitiveness and enquiry among students. The universities were unable to mobilise adequate financial and intellectual resources to support creative research and development efforts unlike in the past when they were at the centre of advanced research and attracted great talent.
Some quick data from this ToI report:
He then went on to outline the UPA government's plans to increase the allocation on science and technology from less than 1% of the GDP to 2% in the next five years. The 10th five-year plan has allotted Rs 25,243 crore to promoting research in institutions under scientific departments.
National investment in R&D hovers around 0.6-0.7% of GDP. Singh's statement would mean a quantum jump in funds available to academic institutions: two per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) would translate into a figure in the region of Rs 64,000 crore.