In times of pandemic, India’s R&D begs for attention

Scientist Research India R&D
The COVID-19 crisis is attracting the best expertise from around the world to find solutions. But India has many other problems of its own, and will have more in the future, which require all the homegrown expertise we can get. | Image - Prathap Ravishankar

On March 16, Prof K VijayRaghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, tweeted calling on scientists to do what they can in the current COVID-19 epidemic, writing "the seriousness of COVID-19 requires that we, as scientists, proactively work together to ensure synergy, develop implementable solutions that health-workers, communities need... This is a time for us to re-purpose all the research we do, whether we wield a pencil or a radio-telescope, to this focused task" and calling on elite institutions in various cities to form collaborative teams and leaderships to tackle this crisis, unprecedented in independent India.

This is perhaps a push to scientists in various fields not just to re-purpose their skills for the current situation, but to consider priorities of scientific research more widely. If so (I may be wrong), it fits in with the research scene in India and with recent government policy. So while I fully support this call (and hopefully some of us will be able to help), let us look at the background and current situation of Indian R&D funding and priorities.

Increase spending, demand pending

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