Over the years there has been a significant improvement in the area of research that is published from India. However, considering that we are a ‘knowledge economy’, the level of this research is yet to touch the expected heights. So what plagues the research sector and how can we thrust it forward in the right direction?
The Lacuna in Research
Research in India is mostly funded by the government and carried out in government institutions. Understandably, the government controls the research and invests only in areas it deems necessary. However, while the research is controlled, the outcome is not. That is where we lack accountability. In most cases the research fails to accomplish the desired goals and thus ceases to be of much use. This is one of the reasons why private organisations stay away from funding research; they fear that the desired outcome will not be achieved.
Another gap in research is that we tend to focus more on core than applied research. While it may serve some important benefits and is vital, core research does not generate the desired ROI or societal outcomes that benefit the public at large.
Focusing In The Right Direction
The time has come when research has to be more accountable in terms of the outcome. The existence of a flurry of journals willing to publish any type of work without adequate quality checks or peer review is on the rise. This has diminished the quality of research in India. A system of multiple checks and balances is needed to monitor this area and make research more fruitful and accountable.
Being a developing country, India needs to be frugal about where the investments go. Applied research, in my opinion, is a more promising area when it comes to creating an outcome based research which will be of use to both the corporates and society at large. Once we shift our focus here, more private organizations would be willing to invest their money in the sector. This money can then be utilized to fuel core research. So the path we need to follow should move from applied to core instead of the other way around.
The Way Forward
By investing in applied research, the country can do wonders, especially in the Industry 4.0 world. We need to reset ourselves and overhaul the existing system. India should take the lead in areas like Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence where it already has a strong foothold. Increased investments in these areas are likely to benefit the corporates who in turn will ensure a steady supply of finances into the economy.
Not just corporates, research in the above technologies can also play a role in improving India’s basic problems such as sanitation, traffic, food, transportation to name a few. Perhaps, investing in research on emerging technologies could prove a win-win for all stakeholders.