NEW DELHI: The National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, 2023, was given the Union Cabinet's sanction on Wednesday. The Bill aims to open the door for the establishment of NRF, which will initiate, cultivate, and support research and development (R&D) as well as promote a research and innovation culture throughout India's universities, colleges, research institutes, and R&D labs.
An estimated 50,000 crore would be spent between 2023 and 2028 to establish the NRF, an executive body that will provide high-level strategic direction of scientific research in the nation in accordance with the National Education Policy (NEP) recommendations.
The prime minister will serve as the board's ex-officio president, while the ministers of science, technology, and education will serve as ex-officio vice presidents, due to the NRF's extensive reach that affects all ministries. An executive council led by the government's top scientific advisor will oversee NRF's operations.
Out of the 50,000 crores allotted, the government intends to raise 36,000 crore through contributions from businesses and philanthropists, with the remaining 20,000 crores coming from the Centre and 4,000 crores from the inclusion of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) into the NRF.
According to a senior official from the Ministry of science and technology, Prime Minister Narendra Modi first proposed the concept for a specialised financing organisation to support research in India in his address at the annual Indian Science Congress in 2018. Between 2020 and 2022, a proposal to this effect began to take shape.
The Science and Engineering Research Board, which was established by a Parliamentary act in 2008, would also be abolished by the bill and absorbed into NRF, which has a wider scope and covers operations that go beyond those of the Board.