Anusandhan Bill OR The Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill, 2023 will likely bring a sea change to Indian basic science, R&D, Innovation, etc.
For any country, the ladder of progress rests on the solid foundation of its R&D and science. To build a solid science foundation many things should fall in place – from innovative ways of raising funds to government incentives, from skill development to changing people’s mindset for the better towards science and technology.
In this article, let’s briefly know the Bill and see how it will change things.
Introduction to Anusandhan Bill
India, aka Bharat, is a land of talent, and we don’t need to look elsewhere to prove that other than the seats of CEO of multi-billion dollar global corporations. They (the CEO seats) are occupied by Indians OR Bharatiyas, and the clan is growing in numbers.
Though most of them went to the USA/ Europe to do their masters/ PHDs, their school education happened in India. The foundation to excel in life was laid in their childhood days in India.
If we look at Silicon Valley companies, there are plenty of Indians in top leadership positions handling technology, business, R&D, etc. helping those companies to grow bigger. However, those foreign companies are using immigrants like Indians to sharpen their edge and grandstanding in Science and innovation.
India too realized that she had to build encouraging ground for developing a solid science foundation, and came out with the Science and Engineering Research Board Act in 2008. However, there were many loose ends in that act. So, it needed a thorough revamp.
The Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill
The Anusandhan National Research Foundation Bill, 2023 was introduced in Lok Sabha on August 4, 2023. It repeals the Science and Engineering Research Board Act, 2008, and dissolves the Science and Engineering Research Board set up under it.
The Bill provides for establishing the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF). It is projected to require around Rs. 50,000 crores over the next five years (2023-28).
Functions of ANRF:
ANRF will be the apex body in the country to provide strategic direction for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the fields of:
- Natural sciences including mathematics,
- Engineering and technology,
- Environmental and earth sciences,
- Health and agriculture,
- Scientific and technological interfaces of humanities and social sciences.
The key functions of ANRF are as follows:
The Anusandhan bill will enable the following
- Preparing short-term, medium-term, and long-term roadmaps and formulating programs for research and development (R&D),
- Facilitating and financing the growth of R&D and related infrastructure in universities, colleges, and research institutions,
- Providing grants for research proposals,
- Supporting translation of research into capital-intensive technology,
- Encouraging international collaboration,
- Encouraging investments in the Foundation by private and public sector entities
- Undertaking annual surveys of scientific research, outcomes, and spending.
Funds for ANRF:
The Anusandhan-supported foundation will be set up through finances sourced in the following ways:
- Grants and loans from the central government,
- Donations to the fund,
- Income from investments of the amounts received by the Foundation
- All amounts with the Fund for Science and Engineering Research set up under the 2008 Act.
The following Funds will be constituted by the Foundation for allocation purposes:
- The ANRF Fund for salaries, allowances, and administrative purposes.
- The Innovation Fund for funding outstanding creativity in the areas supported by the Foundation,
- The Science and Engineering Research Fund for the continuation of projects initiated under the 2008 Act,
- One or more special-purpose funds for any specific project or research. The central government will prescribe rules for the utilization of these Funds. CAG will audit the accounts of the Foundation annually.
ANRF will have a Governing Board headed by the PRIME MINISTER of India. The Board will provide strategic direction to the Foundation and monitor the implementation. Other members of the Board are:
- The Union Minister of Science and Technology, Education as Vice President
- The Principal Scientific Advisor as Member Secretary
- Secretaries to the Departments of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, and Scientific and Industrial Research.
The President of the Board may appoint or nominate additional members to the Board. These may include the following
- Up to five members from business organizations or industries,
- One member from the fields of social sciences and humanities,
- Up to six experts from natural sciences, engineering, and technology. The President may appoint a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), who should be of the rank of an Additional Secretary, or above.
The Foundation will have an Executive Council to undertake implementation. The functions of the Executive Council include the following
- Considering applications for the grant of financial assistance,
- Prescribing regulations regarding applications for financial assistance, requirements for extension of assistance, and grounds for revocation of assistance, and
- Preparing the budget of the Foundation and maintaining its accounts. The Council will have the power to authorize an officer to visit the applicants for grants and verify the accuracy of submissions made by them.
The Principal Scientific Advisor will be the chairperson of the Council. Other members of the Council include:
- Secretaries to various departments of the central government, including Science and Technology, Higher Education, Health Research, Agricultural Research, and Defence Research, and
- The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation. The President of the Foundation may nominate or appoint to the Council:
- Up to two secretaries of departments not covered under the Bill, and
- Up to three experts.
Though the bill and its intent look promising, its implementation is the key to success. The government should make R&D, innovation, science, and arts education a community-driven mission to bring excellence to life. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, China, and Germany did exactly that and now reaping the benefits.