The norm of funding delays in Indian science

A multimedia report featuring real experiences of funding delays faced by India’s scientists. Delays are the norm, and they have devastating effects on science, not to mention scientists themselves.
By and | Published on Jan 15, 2022

According to World Bank’s data, India has over 3.5 lakh of researchers working in various capacities across the country.

Some lead labs, several are post-doctoral scholars and many, many more are grad students. According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE), over 2 lakh students are currently enrolled in a PhD programme.

The headlines may fool you into thinking science is glamorous...

But in reality, India is among the countries that spend the least on research, which is less than 0.7% of our GDP. No wonder we have only 253 researchers in R&D per million of our population. That’s far behind other Asian countries like the Republic of Korea (7,980), Singapore (6,803), UAE (2,379) and Qatar (577).

For researchers, the battle for funds is fierce, and the fight is anything but equal.

Your chances are better if you’re:

The odds are stacked against you if you are:

Those who win funding are the lucky ones. They celebrate, because now they can gather the resources they need to live well and do fantastic science, right?


Because in India, winning a grant on paper is one thing. Getting the money in hand is a whole other thing.

This is a peek into the world of funding delays in Indian science. The statements you see in the rest of this feature are all excerpted from actual responses we received to a questionnaire shared by 32 people in science in India responded to this questionnaire.

The tip of the iceberg

(The situation)

The science is suffering

And so is the morale of the people doing the science

Hacks to survive the red tape

Why is this happening?

(Who is to blame)

A Better World

(What could you do with timely funds)


Note: All the quotes used here are based on responses from an in-depth questionnaire and follow-up interviews by A total of 32 researchers participated in the questionnaire. The respondents comprised predominantly Principal Investigators and graduate students, but there was also representation from a research assistant as well as researchers doing postdoctoral studies, non-academic research projects and junior research fellowships.

Acknowledgements: We thank Guneet Narula and Sputznik for helping us develop this multimedia feature. Season 6 is supported by contributors to our crowdfunding campaign, STEMpeers, and also by a grant from the Thakur Family Foundation. Thakur Family Foundation has not exercised any editorial control over the contents of this reportage.

About the author(s)
Kiran Joan

Kiran Joan is a Baltimore-based illustrator whose work is characterized by textures and contrasting fluid lines. Her art is influenced by a mix of cultures she grew up in, Oman, India, and the US.