Why in News?
- The Union Cabinet approved the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill 2023, which will establish NRF as an apex body to provide high-level strategic direction to scientific research in the country.
- The Bill was necessary because current laws made it hard for private research organisations to contribute to a funding body such as the NRF.
- Establishment of NRF: The NRF Bill, upon approval by Parliament, will establish the National Research Foundation. This apex body will provide high-level strategic direction for scientific research in the country, aligning with the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP). The estimated cost for NRF’s establishment and operation over five years (2023-2028) is approximately Rs. 50,000 crore.
- Administrative Department and Governing Board: The Department of Science and Technology (DST) will serve as the administrative department for NRF. A distinguished Governing Board comprising eminent researchers and professionals across various disciplines will govern the foundation.
- The Prime Minister will be the ex-officio President of the Board, while the Union Minister of Science & Technology and the Union Minister of Education will serve as ex-officio Vice-Presidents. The Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India will chair the Executive Council, which will oversee NRF’s functioning.
- Collaboration and Participation: NRF will facilitate collaborations between academia, industry, government departments, and research institutions. It will establish an interface mechanism to encourage active participation and contributions from industries and state governments, in addition to scientific and line ministries. The foundation will focus on creating a policy framework and regulatory processes to promote collaboration and enhance industry spending on R&D.
- Repeal of Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB): The NRF Bill will also entail the repeal of the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) established in 2008 through an act of Parliament. NRF will subsume SERB and have an expanded mandate covering activities beyond those of SERB.
What is NRF?
- As per the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP), the government will establish NRF at a total estimated cost of ₹50,000 crore from 2023-28.
- NRF will govern the DST as an “administrative” department, with a Governing Board overseeing its operations.
- NRF’s functioning will be governed by an Executive Council chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
Significance of NRF
- Democratisation of science funding: NRF plans to emphasize the funding of projects in peripheral, rural, and semi-urban areas, which are neglected and never receive funding for science projects.
- Finding solutions to the big problems facing Indian society: The NRF would promote research not just in the natural sciences and engineering, but also in social sciences, arts and humanities.
- Provides an efficient and integrated management system: For the implementation of the missions such as the supercomputer mission or the quantum mission.