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Day 73 – Q 2. The number of Research papers published by Indian research scholars have increased but the quality of research is still dismal. What are the reasons for that? What steps have been taken by the GoI to improve the quality of research in India?

2. The number of Research papers published by Indian research scholars have increased but the quality of research is still dismal. What are the reasons for that? What steps have been taken by the GoI to improve the quality of research in India?


According to a report, India’s scientific publications grew 13.9%, as against the global average of 4.1%, between 2009 and 2013. Similar to scientific research, there is huge increase in other researches and publications too. Though quantity of research increased but quality is questionable.

In the recently released QS World University rankings 2019, not a single Indian university figures in top 100 world universities list. QS World’s Universities ranking considers research output of the universities as a parameter, which many Indian universities lack in.


Reasons of poor quality research in India:

  • Affiliations and governance of Universities

One of the causes of the problems plaguing higher education in India is the system of affiliation, where a university can have as many as over 500 colleges attached to it. This simply makes the university, “ungovernable”.

Besides being a logistical and administrative nightmare to the parent university, these colleges function in isolation and there is no real communication amongst the academic disciplines. It defeats one of the fundamental principles of a university—of being an institution where students and teachers are able to exchange ideas and the different disciplines mingle, in the process learning from one another and finding ways to innovate.

  • Lack of interactions

Much of the research in India happens in silos and are either irrelevant or redundant for any practical purposes.

Research in India happens mostly in specialised research institutes rather than in university campuses.

Aside from basic research, due to minimal interaction between departments, there is a lack of interdisciplinary education and research in these campuses.

  • Segregation of teaching and research

Owing to the segregation of teaching and research in the country, entire generations of students have graduated from the university system without producing even a single original research.

  • Investment in research

India’s investment in research is a measly 0.62 percent of GDP. These numbers are well below global best practices. France, for example, spends 2.25 percent of its GDP on research, and the United States, 2.74 percent. Similarly, China invests more than 2.11 percent of its GDP on research.

Steps Taken to improve research

The Government of India (GoI) has launched, beginning in 2013, a string of initiatives to boost the number of researchers in higher education.

  • For starters, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD) launched the Rashtriya Uchchatar Shiksha Abhiyan or the National Higher Education Mission to strategically fund higher education institutes in the country.
  • In 2015, the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was launched to rank universities and institutes in various parameters, including research.
  • Subsequently, the GoI announced the ‘Institutes of Eminence (IoE)’ scheme, where it initially pledged to support 20 institutes to become world-class universities – of which six have already been announced and more than a dozen are awaiting the status upgrade. A “world-class” university, however, cannot be devoid of research; teaching and research go hand-in-hand. IoEs are chosen on the basis of, among others, their research performance in NIRF.
  • In 2018, the ‘Prime Ministers Research Fellowship’, with an initial budget allocation of INR 16.5 billion. Under the scheme, undergraduate and postgraduate students with a Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) of at least 8.0 from elite Indian institutes such as the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs) and Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITs), will be eligible for direct admission in PhD programmes of IITs and IISc. They will also be fairly compensated under the scheme.

Way forward

  • India is attempting to enhance its global footprint through programmes such as ‘Institutes of Eminence’ (IoE) and ‘Study in India’ as well as by preparing a New Education Policy.
  • India has a rich demographic dividend that, if harnessed successfully, can contribute to the country’s economic growth. However, the Indian education system needs an overhaul.
  • While a handful of institutes have been given the tag of IoE for greater autonomy in conducting research and programmes, there are numerous state public universities, affiliated colleges and autonomous colleges that are striving to compete with the raised standards.
  • The Indian education system must explore ways by which it can upgrade its current, textbook-heavy learning system.
  • Introducing UG research in institutes will not only enhance the quality of students and faculty in the system, but also help India generate relevant scholarly research that will contribute to the country and beyond.

Best Answer: Chiranjeev Biswas

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