New Delhi, Oct. 27: China has outpaced India in science in two decades and acquired a staggering lead that keeps widening, the most comprehensive analysis yet of Indian and Chinese research has said.
Chinese research output has increased a hundred-fold since 1980 but India’s has only a little more than doubled, shows the analysis published today in Current Science, a journal of the Indian Academy of Sciences.
“In 1980, India was light years ahead of China,” Ronald Kostoff, team leader at the US Office of Naval Research, and his colleagues said in their report. “For two decades, India’s research production stagnated…. China’s increased exponentially.”
The scientists explored patterns of citations of peer-reviewed research papers — an indicator of the significance of research. The higher the number of citations, the more important the work.
China now outperforms India in all ways of measuring citations — whether one counted papers with more than 100 citations, or the top 20 research papers, or the top 1 per cent of papers, the team said.
Yet, in 1980, China had 692 research papers with citations compared with India’s 10,606. By 2005, China had 72,362 papers — nearly three times the Indian figure. (See chart)
“Our universities have largely stopped doing research,” said professor C.N.R. Rao, head of the scientific advisory committee to the Prime Minister, who had warned of these trends about a year ago.
India produces fewer doctorates than China or Brazil, said Rao, who was not connected with the study. Indian universities award about 4,000 PhDs each year, compared with 10,000 in Brazil and 16,000 in China, he said.
An analysis of research publications in 2005 shows the huge Chinese lead in almost every topic of scientific research. Chinese scientists produced over 7,000 indexed research papers in materials sciences compared with just 1,634 from India.
“But we have more research papers today than before... that’s a positive thing,” said Sujit Bhattacharya, visiting professor at the Centre for Study of Science Policy at JNU and the only Indian member of the research team.
“The scale of science is small in India,” said Gangan Prathap, director of the Centre for Mathematical Modelling and Computer Simulation, Bangalore, who had this year calculated that — in terms of scientific human resources — India lags 163 years behind China.