Let's look at India's spending on science and technology R&D. Since most of this money comes from the government (private sector R&D spend is probably about a third of government spending), we have to start with the budgetary allocations. All the information below is culled from the ministry-wise expenditure budgets which can be downloaded from this page.
Let's start with a high-level summary:
|Department/Ministry||2007 Budget||2006 Budget|
The total comes to about 19,191 crores, up nearly 20 % from 16,035 crores last year.
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Now, a bit of fine print:
The Big Guns: The Departments of Atomic Energy, Space and Defence get a big chunk of our government's R&D 'largesse'. This year, they get 10840 crores (3796, 3858 and 3186 crores, respectively), up 18% from 9181 crores last year (3173, 2997 and 3011 crores, respectively).
The figure for DAE includes spending on academic institutions (such as TIFR and IMSc, Chennai), which is 694 crores this year, against 534 crores last year. Similarly, the DAE budget also includes a bit of manufacturing (heavy water, nuclear fuel, etc).
The R&D component alone is 1746 crores, just 3.5 % up from 1687 crores last year. Here's the break-up for the major R&D centres under DAE: Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai -- 1242 (1234 last year), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, Kalpakkam -- 289 (238), RRCAT, Indore -- 115 (120 crores), and Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre, Kolkata -- 100 (85).
For Defence and Space, however, I presume all of the budget should go under R&D.
Department of Science and Technology (DST) gets 1775 crores (against last year's 1177 crores). This figure also includes academic institutions (such as the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research), for which the allocation is about 445 crores against last year's 356 crores. Yet another piece that's of interest to academic researchers is the allocation for SERC (Science and Engineering Research Council, the arm that funds university research); it has actually come down to 346 crores from 359 crores!
One other notable feature in the DST budget is the allocation this year of Rs. 150 crores for the National Mission on Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Interestingly, Rs. 180 crores were allocated, but was not used (look at the second column for the revised budget estimates)!
Bottomline: If you assume, generously, that the combined R&D spend by other ministries and departments (information technology, renewable energy, environment, etc) and by private industries is about half this figure (of about 19,000 crores), the total R&D budget for all of India comes to about 28,000 crores, or six billion US dollars.
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It's worth repeating this figure: Six Billion US Dollars. For all of India.
Of this, we have just seen that a big chunk -- nearly 40 percent -- goes to mission-mode R&D programs in the Departments of Atomic Energy, Defence and Space. A huge chunk of the rest is used up by R&D organizations that come directly under the various ministries/departments (CSIR labs, ICAR labs, etc).
If you focus your attention on support for academic research at universities, well, you will have to focus hard. While it's not a needle in a haystack, it's still pretty meager. DST offers about Rs. 350 crores through SERC and another 150 crores through the nano-mission, and DBT offers about 200 to 300 crores. Even if you add the support for extramural research from other S&T related ministries (which typically is less than 5 percent of their total budgets), the total academic research support would still be less than 2000 crores -- or about 450 million US dollars. Remember, this is a very generous estimate. To put this number in perspective, it's about one-and-a-half million dollars per university!
So, here's the real bottomline:
The total academic R&D support for the entire country of India is about the same as (or, even smaller than) the R&D expenditure in a (largish) US state university such as the University of Illinois, PennState, or UCLA .
Do remember this fact when some hotshot comes along and bitches about how India produces an abysmally small number of scientific publications.
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Update: Via an e-mail from a friend of a friend, I got the link to this article about the top universities in terms of their R&D expenditure. In 2005, Johns Hopkins was No. 1 with an R&D budget of about 1.4 billion dollars. University of Michigan (808 million dollars), University of Wisconsin at Madison (798 million), UCLA (785 million), UC - San Francisco (754 million) are the other universities in the Top Five.