IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


4th July, 2024 Science and Technology


Source: Hindu

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.


  • The Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF) was established to provide strategic direction for scientific research in India.
  • However, the recently published list of members on the Executive and Governing Boards of the ANRF indicates a significant lack of representation from Indian industry and state universities.


Key Issues

Lack of Industry Representation:

  • The ANRF Act of 2023 anticipated significant financial contributions from the private sector, estimating that ₹36,000 crore of its ₹50,000 crore five-year budget would come from non-government sources, including industry and philanthropists.
  • Despite this, the current 15-member Governing Board includes only one industrialist, Romesh Wadhwani, an American billionaire of Indian origin.
  • This limited representation contradicts the Act's intention to closely involve industry in research initiatives​​.

Absence of State Universities:

  • State universities, identified as major beneficiaries of the ANRF, are also underrepresented.
  • The only academic institutions represented are the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR).
  • This exclusion is notable as state universities are critical for decentralizing research and fostering innovation across India​.

Composition of the Governing Board:

  • The Governing Board is chaired by the Prime Minister, with the Union Ministers of Science and Technology, and Education serving as Vice Presidents.
  • Other members include Ajay Sood, the Principal Scientific Adviser, and secretaries from various government departments.
  • Notably, the board includes two American academics of Indian origin: Manjul Bhargava, a Professor at Princeton University, and Subra Suresh, a Professor at Large at Brown University and former head of the U.S. National Science Foundation​​.

Impact and Concerns

  • The limited involvement of industry and state universities might affect the ANRF's ability to effectively drive innovation and leverage private sector capabilities.
  • This could hinder the foundation's goal of increasing R&D spending and fostering a collaborative research environment.
  • Without robust industry participation, raising the anticipated ₹36,000 crore from non-government sources could be challenging, potentially impacting the overall budget and efficacy of the ANRF's initiatives​​.

About ANRF

  • The Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF) is a key initiative by the Indian government, aimed at providing strategic direction for scientific research, innovation, and entrepreneurship in the country.
  • It was established under the Anusandhan National Research Foundation Act, 2023, which was passed by the Indian Parliament and came into force on December 1, 2023.
  • The Act aims to create a robust research ecosystem and open scientific research activities to the private sector, aligning with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020.
  • It repeals the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) Act of 2008 and dissolves the SERB​​.

Objectives and Functions

The primary goals of the ANRF are:

  • To provide high-level strategic direction for research across various fields including natural sciences, engineering, technology, environmental and earth sciences, health, agriculture, and the scientific and technological interfaces of humanities and social sciences.
  • To enhance India's national research infrastructure and innovation potential.
  • To increase private sector contributions to research and ensure equitable distribution of government funds to state universities and colleges​​.

The ANRF is tasked with:

  • Preparing short, medium, and long-term research and development roadmaps.
  • Funding competitive, peer-reviewed grant proposals.
  • Facilitating the transformation of research into capital-intensive technologies.
  • Conducting annual surveys of scientific research, outcomes, and spending.
  • Encouraging private and public sector investments in research​​.

Organizational Structure

  • The ANRF is governed by a Governing Board and an Executive Council.
  • The Prime Minister of India serves as the ex-officio President of the Board, with the Union Minister of Science and Technology and the Union Minister of Education as Vice Presidents.
  • The Executive Council is chaired by the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India.
  • The Board includes secretaries from various government departments, industry representatives, and experts from diverse fields​​.

Strategic Importance

  • The ANRF is set to operate with an estimated budget of ₹50,000 crore over five years (2023-2028), aiming to bridge the gap between public and private sector research and development efforts.
  • This initiative is expected to significantly boost India's R&D spending, which has historically been low compared to global benchmarks.
  • A significant portion of the funding is anticipated to come from the private sector, fostering greater industry involvement in research​​.
  • The ANRF is seen as a transformative step towards making India a leader in scientific research and innovation by 2047.

Comparison between the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) and the Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF):


Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB)

Anusandhan National Research Foundation (ANRF)


Established in 2008 under the Science and Engineering Research Board Act, 2008

Established in 2023 under the Anusandhan National Research Foundation Act, 2023


Promote basic research in frontier areas of science and engineering

Broader scope including science, engineering, IT, social sciences, humanities

Funding Sources

Primarily government funding

Mix of government funding and significant contributions from industry, philanthropists, and international sources


Managed by a board of leading scientists and researchers

Governed by a board including government ministers, top scientists, and representatives from academia and industry (limited representation currently)

Key Objectives

Focus on funding research projects, fellowships, and awards for scientific excellence

Support and promote R&D across various disciplines with an emphasis on impact and practical applications

Programmes and Schemes

Includes schemes like SERB-SUPRA, SERB-POWER, VAJRA, and others focusing on specific research areas and diversity in research

Expected to introduce new schemes to encourage interdisciplinary and translational research

Industry Collaboration

Limited direct collaboration with industry

Strong emphasis on industry-led initiatives and partnerships with industrial stakeholders

Impact Focus

Primarily academic and theoretical advancements

Tangible impact on society, focusing on quality and relevance of research

Beneficiary Institutions

Mainly centrally funded institutions and research organizations

Includes a wider range of institutions, including state universities and private institutions

Transition from SERB

SERB's functions and responsibilities are being integrated into ANRF

ANRF replaces SERB, aiming to enhance and expand the scope of research and innovation in India




Q: The ANRF's current structure has raised concerns regarding its ability to fulfill its intended role of promoting broad-based, inclusive research and innovation in India. Comment. (150 Words)