IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


1st July, 2023 Science and Technology

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  • The Union Cabinet approved the introduction of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, 2023 in Parliament.

National Research Foundation (NRF)

  • The bill, after approval in Parliament, will establish the National Research Foundation, an apex body to provide high-level strategic direction of scientific research in the country as per recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP).

Focus Areas

  • Facilitating research in universities is expected to be one of the key focus areas for NRF.
  • For some reason, there has been an artificial separation between research and higher education in the country. The NRF would promote research not just in the natural sciences and engineering, but also in social sciences, arts and humanities.
  • NRF would also provide fellowships for post-doctoral research, the funding for which is not available right now.


  • The NRF would be administratively housed in the Department of Science and Technology (DST).
  • The NRF’s functioning will be governed by an executive council chaired by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the government of India.


  • It would have a 16-member governing board with two members from DST, five from industry, one from humanities, and six experts who would be selected depending on the nature of the project being evaluated.
  • Prime Minister will be the ex-officio president of the board and the Minister of Science and Technology and the Minister of Education will be the ex-officio vice presidents.


  • The estimated cost of the project during five years (2023-28) is ₹50,000 crore.

Merger of SERB with NRF

  • The Department of Science and Technology’s main funding body – the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) – which was set up in 2008 and is responsible for funding science and technology start-ups, setting up incubators and funding science-related projects in central and state universities, will be absorbed in the NRF.


  • Currently, there is a major disparity in the funding of research institutes in the country.
  • According to the Department of Science and Technology, about 65 percent of funds from SERB had been cornered by the IITs, and only 11 percent flowed to projects in state universities.
  • Institutes such as the IITs take up a major chunk of the funding because of their infrastructure and rankings, but it is also because of this funding that they have been able to improve their facilities. There is so much research happening in other universities, including state-level institutes, that is going unnoticed because they are not receiving the required financial help.

Significance of NRF

  • The NRF will create a “vibrant ecosystem of research in the country, which will go beyond the Indian Institutes of Technology and encourage uniformity in the development of research institutions.


Q. There is a major disparity in the funding of research institutes in the country. India should rethink funding model for higher ed institutes. Do you agree?