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30-05-2024

12:00:AM

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GS 3 : Science and Tech

The State of Scientific Research in India:

  • India’s Scientific Progress: India has made significant strides in scientific research, ranking third globally in research output and eleventh in quality according to the Nature Index. However, the ease of doing science in India is hampered by a lack of robust infrastructure and resources.
  • Growth of Universities: The number of universities in India increased from 760 in 2014 to 1,113 in 2021. Despite this growth, many universities lack essential resources such as instrumental access, sophisticated labs, and access to scientific literature.
  • I-STEM Initiative: The I-STEM initiative aims to bridge the resource gap by cataloguing all publicly funded research facilities nationwide and making them available to researchers based on need.

The Issue of Access to Scientific Literature:

  • One Nation, One Subscription (ONOS): The ONOS proposal aims to make scientific journals universally available to all publicly funded institutions in India. However, the cost of accessing these commercial journals is high, with Indian institutions spending an estimated ?1,500 crore annually.
  • Limited Reach of Subscription: The benefits of this expenditure are reaped by only a few top institutes, leaving many others without access to crucial scientific literature.
  • Negotiations with Publishers: The government is currently negotiating with five major commercial publishers who dominate the market to implement ONOS.

Open Access and its Implications:

  • Shift Towards Open Access (OA): A significant portion of scholarly articles is now available via OA, which provides free online access to articles. The fraction of OA publications globally increased from 38% in 2018 to 50% in 2022.
  • International Push for OA: Major countries like the U.S. and the European Union, as well as philanthropic funding sources such as the Wellcome Trust, have mandated OA for the research they fund.
  • Questioning the Need for ONOS: Given the increasing availability of free content, the necessity and efficiency of paying for a unified, costly subscription like ONOS is being questioned.

Challenges and Solutions:

  • Long-term Preservation of Content: A recent study found that approximately 28% of academic journal articles with DOIs appear entirely unpreserved, suggesting a risk of these research papers vanishing from the Internet.
  • Green Open Access: This practice allows authors to deposit a version of their work in a university repository, making it freely accessible to everyone globally. Indian funding agencies have mandated green OA for a long time, but enforcement has been lacking.
  • Self-reliance in Scientific Publishing: To become self-reliant, India needs to improve its own journal system, with no burden of payment to authors or readers. With its capabilities in digital technology, India should also become a pioneer for the global south by creating and sharing digital public infrastructure for low-cost, high-quality scientific publishing. 


GS 2 – Governance – Government policies – Issues arising out of their design & implementation.

Around 36% of India’s population is living in cities and by 2047 it will be more than 50%. The World Bank estimates that around $840 billion is required to fund the bare minimum urban infrastructure over the next 15 years.