The National Research Foundation (NRF) will get the funding as a part of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), not as a separate organisation from the government, as declared by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Government representatives argued that the NRF financing was allocated in the DST outlay since the funding organisation had not yet received Union Cabinet approval.
“It is a new scheme of the government to fund cutting-edge science, especially for the state universities,” DST Secretary Srivari Chandrasekhar told news agency PTI.
According to him, the plan to establish the NRF was soon to receive approval from the Union Cabinet.
According to Chandrasekhar, the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government spearheaded the move to establish the NRF, which was also a component of the National Education Policy.
In the Union Budget, the Ministry of Science and Technology was given a budgetary allotment of Rs 16,361.42 crore, while the DST received Rs 7,931.05 crore.
“This includes provision for NRF to address the pressing need for a professional and comprehensive research framework that directs human and material resources towards carrying out well-coordinated research across disciplines and all types of institutions,” an official said.
The NRF, according to him, will aim to cultivate a culture of research and innovation across Indian universities, colleges, and research institutions while also seeding, growing, and promoting research and development.
The Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Department of Biotechnology are also part of the Ministry of Science and Technology, and they have received funding of Rs 2,683.86 crore and Rs 5,746.51 crore, respectively.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had first mooted setting up the NRF in his address to the Indian Science Congress in January 2019 and it found a mention in the Union Budget that year.
In 2021, the finance minister proposed an outlay of Rs 50,000 crore over a period of five years for the NRF.
India has 255 researchers per million which is much less than that of the US, which had 4,245 researchers per million, South Korea (7,498), the UK (4,341) and Japan (5,304).
(With inputs from PTI)