Post-independence investments made in Indian science should now be yielding returns. The reality, according to a recent audit, is that institutions and laboratories created to boost science have squandered billions of rupees through poor management and financial ineptitude.
In this article, Y.P. Gupta, former principal scientist at the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, summarises the audit's findings. It identified several instances of projects being either abandoned or left half-finished and of funds being misused or wasted. The All India Institute of Medical Research, for example, spends only 70-120 million (US$1.5-2.6 million) of its annual six billion rupee budget (US$130 million) on research, says Gupta. The number of patents filed and scientific articles published by Indian researchers is also declining.
The autonomy of Indian institutions means they are closed to scrutiny and so are both financially and scientifically unaccountable, says Gupta. Although improved monitoring of institutions' activities could turn the situation around, Gupta believes that so far nothing is being done to plug the flow of money down the drain.