Saturday, November 14, 2009

Statistics on science/engineering

In a recent article on the future of science in India, Narayana Murthy says

India’s research productivity would be on a par with that of most G8 nations within seven to eight years and that it could probably overtake them in 2015-2020. In the last decade, India has seen its annual output of scientific publications grow from roughly 16,500 in 1998 to nearly 30,000 in 2007. Before we pat ourselves on the back, it would be good to consider things in perspective. Although India produces about 400,000 engineering graduates and about 300,000 computer science graduates every year, just about 20,000 master’s degree holders and fewer than 1,000 Ph.Ds in engineering graduate each year.

Let us look at the statistics more closely and with respect to other countries. In 1980, India, China, Taiwan and Brazil published 10606, 692, 434 and 1638 papers, respectively. In 1995, India and China published the same number of papers (around 12,000). In 2008, India, China, Taiwan and Brazil published around 30000, 130000, 28000 and 34000 papers, respectively.Thus, one can see the tremendous growth of China and other countries compared to India. See the following table,

It indicates that the India's contribution is around 2% with a growth of 4.5%. I do not see how it can reach the top eight countries in a few years. One also has to look into quality and not just the quantity. Because I have written about citations etc before, let me introduce another parameter, number of publications in top journals.  Leaving aside, Nature, Science etc, let us take the top three journals in each field and look at the numbers,

Now, to the next part of the article. I do not know why he talks about the number of engineering graduates (rather than science). Anyway, the numbers are wrong. He says that there are 4 lakh engineering graduates and 3 lakhs are in computer science. The number of engineering graduates that are sanctioned are around 6.5 lakhs while that graduating is around 4.5 lakhs. The breakup was Computer  Science  and  Information  Technology accounted for 34% of the total, 39% for Electronics and Electrical Engineering, 12 % for Mechanical and 4% for Civil Engineering. Maybe he is bunching all EE/ECE/CS/IT together.

The numbers of the masters and doctoral students are correct. There are roughly 1000 engineering doctorates graduating every year, of which around 500 are from IIT/IISc. Thus, the ratio of engineering doctorates to engineering graduates is 1/450 (i..e, less than 0.25%), while  Germany, UK, US maintain  rates  of  7 to 9%. China had a ratio of around 0.25 in 1988 and the ratio is now 3%.  One can do a similar analysis for science doctorates to science graduates.

Later in the article, he talks about money spent on R&D. The numbers are incorrect for India. Maybe he should specify the sources from which the numbers are obtained. I think it is very important that when leaders speak, they should use the correct numbers and then give their opinion.


Ranga said...

Early exposure to what exactly constitutes the life and work of a scientist could go a long way in affecting those numbers positively. A large percentage of scientists in India are in because of some pedigree among friends / family, or simply be chance.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Madras,

Very good post and welcome back from your break from blogging!

I was wondering, in a specific year, what is the number of total masters and PhD students in engineering departments at IISc (say ChE or ECE?). What type of "success rate" do you have for retaining masters students for PhD's or for graduating PhDs?


SS said...

Prof. Giri, Nanopolitan has also pointed out several other throw-away statements that NRN made in his article. It is great that the real scientists are fact-checking a bunch of manager-speak! Forget catching up with Western economies, we need to think about what we can do to emulate China. That is not happening currently for three main reasons. 1) Money: a govt. expenditure of <1% GDP on sci/tech research, and very little private funding/philanthropic research institutes, especially given the number of new billionaires in India ;) 2) Research culture: Even in the IIT system that I went through, there was little emphasis on a research career, and the culture was more towards big-bucks/IIM careers. 3) Over-reliance on the IIX system: Purely volume-wise, this is a huge disadvantage, as the IIX system is a tiny fraction of the Indian 'higher-education' system. I think China started out by pumping in more money (~3% GDP?), by poaching established chinese scientists from the West ('1000 talent' program pays handsomely and has lucrative research funding), and now they've really built up the capability for a completely home-grown science program. I hope India will do something similar. Unfortunately, we do not have a disgustingly huge trade balance!

Giri@iisc said...

Dear Bharat,

The number of Ph.D students on roll in a typical department is three times the number of faculty. The numbers of masters students would be similar. Students who convert from masters to Ph.D are not high but increasing.

Dear Anon,

I just read the nanopolitan article. It is quite interesting. I am more worried about the wrong numbers. Media will pick it up and this misconceptions will remain for a long time.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
Your comments on this serious issue?
Published online 9 November 2009 | Nature 462, 152 (2009) | doi:10.1038/462152a


Report row ousts top Indian scientist

klpana said...

Dear Prof.Giri,
It is proposed that IISER will come under NIT act. Dos it mean that IISERs will be seen as NIT clones in Sciences. In this case, IISERs will not be at-par with IITs/IIMs.

Giri@iisc said...

Dear klpana,

I think it means inclusion into INI - inclusion to the list of institutes of national importance.

Anonymous said...

Nice blog as usual by Prof. Giridhar, in the last paragraph he wonders from where NRN got this number of 24 billion dollars for R&D spending in India. I have tried to look at the numbers and it seems it should be half i.e. 12 billion dollars.

K.S Jayaraman (2009), Nature, 458, 956-957, claims India’s current expenditure on science and research is about 0.9% of GDP (1.22 trillion dollar). It seems it is expected to rise and reach about 2% of GDP by 2012.

“Government spending on science research now stands at about 0.9% of gross domestic product, and is expected to rise to about 2% by 2012, says Krishnaswami Kasturirangan, who headed the Indian Space Research Organisation in 1994–2003 and who is now a member of the upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha. Kasturirangan believes that the growth in India's science spending is likely to continue towards that target whichever party wins power”.

N.R. Narayana Murthy (NRN) in his article (Hindu, November 12, 2009) talks about a figure of 24 billion dollars (for R&D expenditure of India) as compared to 368 billion dollars being spent by USA. A quick internet search on R&D expenditure country wise would suggest that USA spends about 2.7% of GDP (14.2 trillion dollar) on R&D and that would be roughly equal to 368 billion dollars as suggested correctly by NRN. However, for India, calculating the above expenditure (based on above citation; Nature 2009) lead us to believe that the actual number should have been 12 billion dollars and probably there is a calculation mistake (by NRN).

Interestingly the Global Research Report: India, cited by NRN article in Hindu also cites Nature 2009 paper by K.S. Jayaraman but there is a slight variation in numbers. Please see below the statement in Global Research Report: India

Overall, as Nature reported earlier in 2009, government spending on science research currently accounts for roughly 0.9% of gross domestic product; by 2012, the figure is expected to rise to 1.2%.

Again there is an error in number; probably K.S. Jayaraman has made a typo error as it is unrealistic to assume that R&D expenditure of India would increase more than twice in just 3 years (from 0.9 to 2% of GDP).

Rajnish Kumar

Anonymous said...

What is the current budget of science and engineering research budget in India? How does this number compete with China, US , Taiwan etc on a percentage basis?
Can anyone write about the china model on faculty recruitment and salary. Is it it government controlled like in India. In the same context how much research money is invested by the industries and private sectors in India and how does that compare with china.
India Government has established 15 or so IITs. Are we thinking about encouraging quality private institutes. Right now private institutes are there in plenty but only 1-2 do any kind of research. Looking at US there are so many private universities that do great work without state government support. Is that a model worth pursuing in India to increase the standard.
It will be nice to know what the IIX faculities think.

SS said...

Anon, as far as I know, India's science budget is 0.9% of India's GDP, with a promise that it will go up to 1.2% this year. China's science budget is ~3% of China's GDP, which is significantly larger. Perhaps human resources are cheaper in India, but equipment and reagents are probably equally expensive. Thus, the Chinese have a 2.5-3 fold monetary advantage. But one should always remember that China is also in a much stronger financial position and on a faster growth rate trajectory than India.

As for recruiting, my Chinese friends tell me that the preference is for mid-senior level faculty who are already established in the West. They have special schemes such as the 1000 talent program I mentioned in my earlier comment. This is meant for such established faculty to come back to China and bring with them both expertise and the contacts and reputations they have built for themselves. China also encourages establishing collaborations with Western institutes and having international joint appointments. I don't believe that there is a large private contribution to science in China, after all, China is a communist country at least in name.

Comparing with private universities in the US is not entirely fair. These universities such as Harvard have huuuuge endowments that keep them going. They charge their students in the range of $40000 a year to attend. They are truly for the 'elite', and do not accomplish a more general public education goal. I think that is provided by the State schools that are very decent.

These are just what I have heard talking with my friends. Prof. Madras, your blog post on 'Stunted Growth' touches some of these issues. But I am curious to hear what you think about these issues as well.

But my feeling is, if we start playing this catch-up game, we will forever be catching up. India needs to identify fields in which it can be the leader and put extra effort in those. But this shouldn't obviously be at the cost of establishing a solid and wide base in Science. Sorry for such a long post!

Anonymous said...

Dear Prof.

Please tell me if application is shortlisted for a presentation in IISER or IIT then how much percent chance is to get position after talk session. Please reply soon my talk date is very near.

Thanks in advance.
Best regards,
Rahul Sharma

Loved Ever said...

welcome back from break. good post relating to statistics.
Work From Home India

Anonymous said...

Firstly, I wanted to say to Kalpna that NITs are better than IITs and others. IISER's will be clones of NITs and perhaps NIT act is the best act amongst any.Firstly IISc is not covered undder any act and it is not an institutes of national importance and it is just a deemed university enjoying more money flow than central university. I don't why it is so.

All INI's are thebest of the breed institutes ,however there is politics ticking some seven and odd insti's in to the bunch called IIEST, which does not fell through.

the concept IISER may help but NITs can do the quality of science after their strategic vision to be released in this year.

I don't how IISER is going to compete with NIT's and IIT's ,which are INI's under ministry.

IIM's are just brand and they are not ini's and they need not be INI's as they concentrate in one single stream.

In INI's ,there is tier--1 INI's and tier -2 INI's INI's meaning that all the instis are bound by their respective act and they are equal and also compete each other. In parctice, it is fall into HRD and academic politics namely one big project is hijacked by set IITs from NIT's without any merit.

IITs and NITs brand:

IITs are nothing other than their PAN-IIT alumni, which is reponsible for their brand today, particularly their UG's

NIT's ar yet come together to produce profound effect, clled brand as NIT alumni i more powerful etc..


They may be INI's but they have to work hard to get brand atleast 10- 15 years to come anywhere near what NIT or IIT is now. By then, these set of insti will progress way above and against many challenges. this is the statement of one senior professor from IIT delhi.

WHat govt to do:-

Fund as much as they could in NITs or in few IIT's like Harvard -MIT sub zero physics to come out gas can be magnetic so that we can beat them. I think that NIT strategic vision is excatly going under the review and shape.

Say one NIT will be able to produc 15,000 stuents and 25% will be Ph.d's and post docs in year or bet 2012 -2015. This is for sure. It will be vetted by NIT council

Please don't equate IIMs in the line of NIT's as they are not INI's. They are just management insti.

Please also keep in mind that IITs are not in line with NITs and they are two different set of same ranked insti and compete each other.

IISER's to come up will be very difficult as NIT's largely will eat them along with 14 other world class central univ's.

In NITK,we are 50,000 alumni and in this 20% are psot graduates. IITs will be wiped out in the next three years if they are moving in snail pace.

Please read co-NIT collaboration with best finnish insti and germa insti. The NIT with MIT collaboration is also on the card.. with student exchange in doctorallevel.