The economic survey 2017-18 has shed some light on India’s under-investment in science and technology. Although Indian scientists and technologists are considered amongst the best in the world, India is still far from its peer nations. Organisations like ISRO, DRDO, HAL, Infosys, Wipro etc are well-known in the prowess in science and technology. But, India at large lacks innovation at the student or personal level. Despite having the demographic dividend, very few Indian startups or Indian MNCs have a global presence. Clearly, India needs to redouble its efforts to improve science and R&D in the country first and foremost by doubling national expenditures on R&D coming from universities and private institutions. Science and patents should reflect the social change in India.
Looking at publications and patents in Science & technology in India can help assess the productivity and quality of Indian research. In 2013, India ranked 6th in the world in scientific publications. Its ranking has been increasing as well. The growth of annual publications between 2009 to 2014 was almost 14 percent. This increased India’s share in global publications from 3.1 % in 2009 to 4.4 % in 2014 as per the Scopus Database.
Broadly, the publication trends reveal that India is gradually improving its performance as measured by the number of publications which is an important metric.
In addition to increasing publications, trends in quality are also slowly improving. The Nature Index (which publishes tables based on counts of high-quality research outputs in the previous calendar year covering the natural sciences) ranked India at 13 in 2017.
If journal publications reflect a country’s prowess in science, patents reflect its standing in technology. According to the WIPO, India has the world’s 7th largest Patent Filing Office. In 2015, India registered 45,658 patents in comparison to China (1,101,864), USA (589,410) Japan (318,721) Republic of Korea (213,694) and Germany (91,726). However, India produces fewer patents per capita.
One major challenge in India has been the domestic patent system. While India’s patent applications and grants have grown rapidly in foreign jurisdictions, the same is not true at home. Residential applications have increased substantially since India joined the international patent regime in 2005. However, the number of patents granted fell sharply post- 2008 and has remained low. While Indian residents were granted over 5000 patents in foreign offices in 2015, the number of resident filings in India was little over 800.
The government’s recent hiring of over 450 additional patent examiners and creation of an expedited filing system for Indian residents in 2017 will, therefore, be a welcome and crucial intervention to help fix the existing patent system. Having addressed issues on the patent filing side, addressing patent litigation issues will also be crucial to ensuring that the patent system effectively rewards innovation.
Source- PIB, Economic Survey