An electric taxi in Bankura


In India (chapter 22), the government launched the Digital India programme in 2015 to transform the ecosystem of public services. Sharp growth in access to Internet has fuelled the digital economy, including e-commerce. 

The flagship Make in India programme has sought to promote investment in manufacturing and related infrastructure, among other things. Although it may have helped to improve the business environment, it has had little tangible impact on manufacturing itself. Since Covid-19, the manufacturing sector has been developing frugal (low-cost) technologies, including lung ventilators.  

Since 2016, the Start-up India initiative has boosted the number of start-ups but these remain concentrated in the services sector, in general, and software development, in particular. 

Overall research intensity remains stagnant and the density of scientists and engineers remains one of the lowest among BRICS countries, despite having risen somewhat. 

The government has reduced the tax incentive for firms conducting R&D, which is consistent with the finding of the previous UNESCO Science Report (2015) that the tax regime had ‘not resulted in the spread of an innovation culture across firms and industries’. Pharmaceuticals and software still account for the majority of patents. Although inventive activity by Indian inventors has surged, foreign multinational corporations remain assignees for the vast majority of patents.  

The phenomenon of ‘jobless growth’ that has plagued India since 1991 has worsened. Moreover, in 2017, the size of the workforce contracted for the first time since independence. Another concern is the low employability of graduates, including those enrolled in STEM subjects, although this indicator did improve over 2014–2019. The ambitious National Skills Development Mission aims to train about 400 million Indians over 2015–2022.  

Air and water pollution remain life-threatening challenges in India. The government is striving for universal electrification and the diffusion of electric and hybrid vehicles.  

  • Figure 22.1: Socio-economic trends in India  
  • Figure 22.2: Trends in research expenditure in India  
  • Figure 22.3: Trends in scientific publishing in India  
  • Figure 22.4: Trends in Innovation in India  
  • Figure 22.5: Revenue foregone in India as a result of R&D tax incentive, 2008–2019  
  • Figure 22.6: Trends in human resources in India  
  • Table 22.1: Indian pharmaceutical companies active in Covid-19 vaccine research, 2020  
  • Table 22.2: Indian strategies and policies for Industry 4.0 technologies