Moonshots and Quantum Computing, Sources for National Pride
India’s science and technology funding: Time for a rethink?
Excerpts and salient points ~
+ First, government should primarily focus on funding basic research and/or moonshots. It is widely believed that basic research leads to innovative technologies, however the gestation period for a new technology to be borne out of basic research is long. Since industry may not find such research investment attractive, government funding may be critical to sustaining such research.
The oft-heard argument about India’s funding for science and technology research goes like this: government R&D funding as a fraction of overall GDP is relatively small (0.6% for India vs 2.1% for China and 2.8% for the US); increasing research funding will lead to increased innovation, prestige and economic activity as well as enhanced problem-solving capacity.
+ Similarly, moonshots (for example, LIGO, Gaganyaan or quantum computing), at a minimum, enhance national identity and pride. For a diverse country like India, any cost-effective and peaceful instrument that enhances identity and pride is valuable. In addition, moonshots also often lead to development of intermediate technologies that can have applications in other settings.
+ [G]overnment-funded research has had a mixed record, both in India and internationally, especially in terms of stimulating innovation and economy per rupee/dollar invested, particularly when compared against private investment. However, national pride, occasional commercialization, enhancement of national problem-solving capacity, and the promise of economic payoff may be good enough reasons for continued funding. We must make sure that debate about the right level and nature of funding continues to be data-driven and return-oriented so that hard-earned public money is used effectively.
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