At a time when India is being looked at as the next big knowledge superpower, this could come as a shocker. A study India’s research output and collaboration conducted by Thomson Reuters, India’s share of world research output in clinical medicine was a paltry 1.9% in 2010, psychiatry (0.5%), neurosciences (1.4%), immunology (1.8%), molecular biology (2.1%) and environmental research (3.5%). In mathematics, India’s share of world output stood at around 2% in 2010, while it was 17% for China. In case of materials sciences, India’s share of world research was at 6.4% in 2010, while China’s stood at 26% — a rise from 5% in 1996.
In 2010, India’s largest shares of world research output were in chemistry (6.5%), materials science (6.4%), agricultural sciences (6.2%), pharmacology and toxicology (6.1%), microbiology (4.9%), physics (4.6%) and engineering (4.2%). India is often referred to as the next big place for computer sciences. But the figures on its research are abysmally low. Only 2.4% of global research on computer sciences was from India in 2010 while the world share moved to three emerging research economies – China (15%), Korea (6.3%) and Taiwan (5.7%).
The biggest declines in volume of research between 1981 and 2010 were in plant and animal sciences (-2.2%) and agricultural sciences (-1.6%). The most significant expansions were in pharmacology and toxicology (+4.2%), microbiology (+3.2%) and materials sciences (+3.1%). In addition, the study report also states that the India’s global share of research in economics stood at 0.7% in 2010 while in social sciences it was worse at 0.6%.
Apart from this, India has been the sleeping giant of Asia. Research in the university sector, stagnant for at least two decades, is now accelerating but it will be a long haul to restore India as an Asian knowledge hub. Indian higher education is faced with powerful dilemmas and difficult choices – public/private, access/equity, uncertain regulation, different teaching standards and contested research quality.
It pointed out that India’s share of world output in engineering fell from 4.3% in 1981 to 2.2% by 1995. Later, India regained its lost share, increasing to 4.25 by 2010. However, even then, India was overtaken by China (16.4%), Korea (5.4%) and Taiwan (4.4%). India, where agriculture dominates economic standards, had quite a large share in agricultural sciences that averaged 7.45% between 1981 and 1995, well ahead of other emerging research economies. Its share, however, fell to 6.2% in 2010. Even in the field of plant and animal sciences, the global research output fell from 6.1% in 1981 to 3.9% in 2010.