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Rs 1 lakh crore corpus to incentivise R&D

While presenting the Interim Budget 2024-25 in Parliament on February 1, 2024, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced that a fund of Rs 1 lakh crore will be set up in the country, which will enable the private sector to undertake research and innovation in sunrise sectors. With the help of this fund, 50-year interest free loans will be provided. That is, this fund will provide long term financing or refinancing with low or zero interest rates. It is believed that the establishment of this fund by the government will give a new impetus to innovation in the country. Due to various policies, programmes and campaigns being adopted by the government for the last decade or so, innovation in the country has received a huge push, which is evident from the number of patents in the country. According to the data released recently by the government, the number of patents issued in India reached 41,010 during the first 8 months of the year 2023-24; that is, till November. It is noteworthy that 30,073 patents were granted in the entire year 2021-22, whereas in 2013-14 this number was only 4,227. It can be said that in the last decade, the number of patents issued in a year has increased by nearly 10 times. It is noteworthy that the number of patent applications worldwide increased by 1.7 percent in 2022, while the number of applications for trademarks and industrial designs decreased by 14.5 percent and 2.1 percent respectively. The growth rate of patent applications is decreasing for the second consecutive year in the world, in China this growth rate decreased from 6.8 percent in 2021 to only 3.1 percent in 2022, but in India it increased at the rate of 21.6 percent. In the past, most of the patent applications in India were filed by multinational companies, so that they could get their global patents validated in India. But in recent years, more patent applications are being filed by Indians. For example, in 2016-17, only 29 percent of total patent applications were made by Indians, whereas in 2022-23 this proportion increased to 52.3 percent.

All this has been made possible in the country due to the improvements at the patent office in recent years. The number of examiners in patent office has increased significantly in the last few years but this number is still much less than China and America. While in India only 900 people are working in the patent office, in China the number is 13,704 and in the United States it is 8,234. It is important to analyse the reasons for the increasing number of patent applications and patents issued in the country, so that appropriate policies and programs can be adopted to promote innovation. If we take account of the last 10 years, it's evident that during this period, progress has been made in various fields and at various levels. This progress is visible across manufacturing/industrial, agriculture and allied activities and service sectors and related technological progress. Importantly, this progress is visible not only numerically but also qualitatively. All the dimensions of Industrial Revolution 4.0 are visible in this progress of India. Although India was not successful in making significant progress in the first, second and third industrial revolutions, Indian scientists and academicians never gave up. For a long time, significant progress has been seen in the field of space in the country, a special achievement of which was manifested by successful landing of Chandrayaan at the South Pole of the Moon, where no country in the world has been able to reach so far. 

India's ISRO has not only been continuously progressing, but on the basis of its innovation it has also made a strong foothold in the world market. On the basis of space science advances, the internet can be made available at low cost and its speed can enhance many times higher than the present one. Today, along with ISRO, the private sector is also making significant progress in space; and ISRO along with its partners and associates in the private sector is competitive globally. Another big area is telecom and computer hardware and software. Progress in the country was slow in terms of computer hardware, but in the last decade, rapid progress has been seen in telecom, computer hardware and software. Startups engaged in this field in the country have made a special contribution. With the National Quantum Mission launched by the government, the country has entered into the exclusive club. Apps, payment networks etc. has put India at the frontier of the digital revolution. Not only has digitisation of payments taken place through UPI and other means, but also many digital efforts including Open Network Digital Commerce, E-Pathshala, E-Governance, E-Kranti-Electronic Delivery of Services, Digi-Locker etc are surprising the world; and are creating a distinct identity for India. India's progress in Artificial Intelligence, drones, robots, defence equipment etc. is remarkable. The intensifying innovation in India is visible not only numerically but also qualitatively. There is hardly any doubt that India will be able to take a huge leap forward in the field of innovation when budding scientists and institutions engaged in innovation will receive huge financial support with the help of the corpus of Rs 1 lakh crore, for a long period without interest, that has been provided for in this budget.

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