India will raise its spending on science by 10% to 536.2 billion rupees (US$8.4 billion) for 2018–19, compared with the previous year, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on 1 February. The budget includes 30.7 billion rupees earmarked for a digital programme that includes artificial intelligence and cyber systems.
“Combining cyber and physical systems have great potential to transform not only innovation ecosystem but also our economies and the way we live,” Jaitley told parliament. He said India would invest in robotics, artificial intelligence, digital manufacturing, big data analysis, quantum communication and the Internet of Things. The nation would initiate a national programme for artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications, he said, in the last budget delivered by Narendra Modi’s government before the country goes to the polls in 2019.
Despite the cash injection, India’s spending on science will remain relatively low, at around 0.8% of gross domestic product (GDP). That is well below the 3% that researchers demanded in August during ‘march for science’ events around the country. “There appears to have been only 8–10% rise in various scientific departments on average, which, factoring in inflation, is not much,” says Krishna Ganesh, founding director of the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Tirupati. “Nowhere are we even near 1% of GDP.”