The Union Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval for the introduction of the National Research Foundation (NRF) Bill, 2023 in the Parliament. This significant move aims to establish the NRF, an apex body that will play a pivotal role in seeding, nurturing, and promoting Research and Development (R&D) while fostering a culture of research and innovation across universities, colleges, research institutions, and R&D laboratories in India.
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. The foundation will be governed by a distinguished Governing Board comprising eminent researchers and professionals across various disciplines. 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. SERB will be subsumed into NRF, which will have an expanded mandate covering activities beyond those of SERB.