Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Women scientists lead India’s scientific research landscape

Women’s participation in science leadership is rising. According to a recent government report, the number of women leading research projects has grown by 4% in the last two years.

Women Principal Investigators (PIs) participation

According to the Directory of Extramural Research & Development (R&D) Project 2018-19 report released by the government recently, Women Principal Investigators (PIs) participation in research that received Extramural Research (EMR) support was 28% in 2018-19, as compared to 24% during 2016-17.

The report also revealed that extramural R&D support or R&D support through peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanisms by the central government was Rs. 2,091.04 Crore in 2018-19 as compared to Rs. 2,036.32 Crore in the previous year –an increase of Rs. 54.72 Crore.
The number of projects supported has increased with the number of PIs. A total of 3,839 PIs undertook 4,616 projects in comparison to 3,491 PIs undertaking 4,137 projects during 2017-18.

From this support, eight states received 64 % of the projects, including Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, accounting for 71% of the funding.

22 Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs) combined received 822 projects, with the highest financial support of Rs. 449.25 Crore, followed by 26 National Institute of Technology (NITs) combined, which received 191 projects with the financial support of Rs. 55.83 Crore. Engineering and Technology received the maximum financial assistance, while Biological Sciences received the most number of projects.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) received the most Extramural Research (EMR) funding Rs.1,392.21 (67 %), followed by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) with Rs. 341.37 Crore (16 % ). Together, both departments contributed 83 % of India’s total extramural R&D funding.

Role of Scientific and Technological research

Scientific research is a critical tool for successfully navigating our complex world. Scientific and Technological (S&T) activities play an important role in the economic, social, and physical development of a country. Scientific and technological research needs huge investments and calls for judicious utilization of scarce resources like finance, trained manpower, and raw materials, etc.

Data collection and analysis pertaining to resources devoted to S&T also assumes significant importance. The growth of S&T, its performance, and its impact on society and the economy are indicators to assess the effectiveness of planning and policy formulation.

What is Extramural Research and Development (R&D) project support

Extramural Research and Development (R&D) project support is a peer-reviewed competitive grant mechanism of the Central Government to promote, catalyze and advance R&D and innovation in the country which provides a special encouragement to scientists to pursue a research career.

Centre for Human and Organisational Resource Development (CHORD) division, formerly known as the National Science and Technology Management Information System (NSTMIS) division of DST, has been collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information on Extramural Research and Development projects funded by various scientific agencies.

CHORD has been tasked with continuously creating an information base on resources allocated to scientific and technological activities for better policymaking in the country.

Since 1990-91, DST has produced an annual Directory of Extramural R&D Projects approved for funding by selected Central Government departments and agencies.

The present directory, twenty-ninth in the series, is an outcome of the efforts made for the projects supported and funded during the year 2018-19 by various scientific agencies of the Government. During 2018-19, the directory contained information on 4,616 R&D projects approved for funding by 16 scientific agencies and departments.

Other Schemes to promote participation in Research and Development

The Government has also initiated several programmes and schemes to promote people’s participation in R&D. Several new schemes to attract and engage young researchers such as National Post Doctoral Fellowship, Early Career Research Award, Overseas Doctoral Fellowship, and Overseas Post Doctoral Fellowship and Teacher Associates for Research Excellence have been launched. A scheme called Visiting Advanced Joint Research (VAJRA) has been initiated to bring the best of global science and scientists to India including Non-Resident Indians also.

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