Government tells research labs to 'self-finance' projects
The Ministry of Science and Technology mandated organisations involved in scientific research to start 'self-financing' projects, send in monthly updates and ensure that research stays in sync with the Central government's 'social and economic objectives.' The cash-strapped Ministry asked the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to generate half of its funds. The decision was part of the 'Dehradun Declaration' signed in June.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is an autonomous body with 37 laboratories and 39 field stations or extension centres spread across the nation. It is mainly funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
'DEHRADUN DECLARATION' was adopted at the end of two day conference of CSIR Directors held at CSIR-Indian Institute of Petroleum in Dehradun. The conference ended with all CSIR labs resolving to turn research projects into 'for-profit' ventures in next two years. As part of the declaration, all labs signed up to "develop a revenue model in a business-like manner with a clear cost-benefit analysis."
The Science & Technology Policy objective to attract private sector investment promotes establishment of research and development facilities in public-private partnership (PPP) mode. The policy focuses on permitting multi stakeholders in the India R&D system and providing incentives for commercialization of innovations. The Dehradun Declaration could be seen as aligning with the national science policy to involve the private sector.
The declaration means that CSIR labs are now required to show how their research contributes to 'society outreach'. CSIR must show what part of their work 'gives back to society'. Apart from funds cut, the number of CSIR fellowships have also been reduced. Science & Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan said that research in India needed to be commercialised, underplaying the concerns expressed by academicians
Science and Technology is not the only ministry to experience budget cuts. Health Ministry also pulled the plug on 18 donor-funded projects and 14 operational research projects financed by the National AIDS Control Organisation, in March, thereby, cutting down funds for HIV/AIDS research.