The Indian Nanotechnology Enigma

Indiaâ''s Economic Times have just reported on research that indicates that Indiaâ''s nanotechnology spending is below global levels.

The operative word here is â''Spendingâ''. It seems they allocate the money they just canâ''t get around to spending it.

This is particularly perplexing given that the current president of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, is a great proponent of nanotechnology.

This lack of spending prompted the president to note in January of this year that "more than 20 per cent of the funds [for science spending] had remained under-utilised during 2005â''2006," as reported in the Indian newspaper, The Hindu.

While the original article in the Hindu is no longer available online, TNTLog has a crucial quote from the piece:

"One may be tempted to ask what prompted the President to make such a remark now. It is quite likely that, having looked at the 2005-06 expenditure figures, he must have discovered, to his utter despair, that the Rs.200 crores allocated for the national Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Mission (Nano Mission), of which he was the prime moving force, had to be surrendered entirely unspent. The total amount unspent by the DST is 14.68 per cent of the total allocation in the 2005-06 budget, and the Nano Mission alone accounts for 12 per cent."

From an outside perspective it appears to be just bureaucracy gone awry.

India has an annual production of engineering graduates five times higher than the United States, and industries from textiles to automotive already taking advantage of nanotechnologies for both domestic and export markets. It has the scientists, the industries that can exploit nanotechnologies, and even the allocated funds for researchâ''they just canâ''t spend it. A real headshaker.

As previously noted on this blog, there is a lot of concern among Western nations that the rest of the worldâ''primarily Asiaâ''is leaving the West behind in the nanotechnology race. Maybe this news will allay some of those fears.


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