India needs to increase its spending on Research and Development (R & D) to 2%, or Rs 1,76,000 crore of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), if the country wants to promote innovation, said Arun Firodia, chairman of Kinetic Group of Companies, who spoke at a symposium on ‘Science and Technology for Inclusive Development’ on the last day of the Indian Science Congress.
With the country currently spending less than 1% of GDP on research and development, it cannot compete with world leaders in innovation and technology, Firodia said.
According to Firodia, India will have to set up 100 world class research institutes and universities to promote innovation. “We may be able to send a Mangalyaan mission to Mars at a fraction of the cost incurred by other countries, but cannot compete with them [in other matters] if we spend 0.5% of our GDP on research and development,” said Firodia.
However, getting a good teaching faculty for these institutes could be a problem, Firodia said, as even the Indian Institutes of Technology, particularly the news ones, are struggling to attract teaching staff. “My suggestion is to look at Indian expatriates and get them to come back home. A high-powered committee can be set up to negotiate and induce them to come back to India,” Firodia said.
He also suggested setting up of regional ‘centres for excellence’ in cities specialising in a particular industry – such as optics in Ambala, automobiles in Pune, diesel engines in Rajkot and metal work in Moradabad – to turn these places into world-class manufacturing hubs.
Firodia gave the example of Pune University, which is situated in a city that is one of India’s major automobile manufacturing centres, but still does not offer a degree in automobile engineering. “We get our automobile engineers from Chennai,” said Firodia.