Technical manpower in India is developed through a system of publicly and privately financed training and educational institutions, informal sector apprenticeship-type training arrangements, and the in-plant training programmes conducted by public and private sector enterprises. The formal system of technical education operates at five levels-certificate, diploma, degree, post-graduate and research degree programmes.

Certificate level programmes produce skilled workers and are operated at about 1,900 Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) run by the Directorate General of Employment and Training (DGET) in the Union Ministry of Labour. Nearly 3,25,000 students are trained annually in about 140 trade areas. The entry requirement to these programmes is 10 years of basic education. Vocational education certificate level courses are offered in agriculture, business, commerce, health and paramedical, home science and humanities areas, in addition to engineering trades. Another 1,500 vocational schools offer these courses, admitting about 72,000 students annually. The National Council for Vocational Training, and the Directorates of Vocational Training in the States look after the planning and operation of these programmes at the national and state levels respectively.

Diploma programmes producing middle-level supervisory staff are offered in about 950 polytechnics. Admission to this programme requires 10 years of basic education. The courses are of three years' duration in the engineering disciplines. About 20% of the polytechnics offer programmes in other fieldes also. In all, programmes are offered in about 90 engineering and non-engineering disciplines admitting about 1,26,000 students annually. A few institutions conduct post-diploma and advanced-diploma programmes in selected areas.

Degree level programmes in engineering are conducted at the 5 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), the IISc and four technical universities, 17 Regional Engineering Colleges (RECs), a few 'deemed university' institutions and University departments and about 350 State-level Engineering Colleges (SECs). The 5 IITs, IISc and technical universities also offer postgraduate and research degree programmes with a bias to technology development and admit about 1,300 students for research and graduate programmes each year. These are national institutions and are fully funded by the Government of India. Of the 17 RECs 14 offer postgraduate and research degree programmes. They have an annual intake of about 5,000 for Bachelor's Degree and 1,400 for postgraduate courses. There are about 350 State-level Engineering Colleges which mainly offer undergraduate programmes with an annual intake of about 68,000 students. About 90 of these institutions also offer post-graduate programmes with an annual intake of about 8,500 students. In addition, there are nearly 50 institutions, including the 4 Indian Institutes of Management providing management education to over 4,000 students annually.

There are considerable imbalances and variations amongst these various types of institutions in the average annual recurring cost per student and in the quality of the graduates they produce. For example, for the degree programmes, the annual recurring cost per student ranges between Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 60,000 in the well established institutions of different types. However, in some institutions with inadequate facilities and faculty the unit cost is much less. The AICTE has worked out the annual recurring cost per student for engineering colleges as Rs. 11,916 at the 1988 price levels. These are based on somewhat liberal norms. If an annual increase of 5 to 10 percent is allowed for, this figure works out to Rs. 15,200 to 19,200 in 1993. These figures are bound to escalate at a much faster rate due to several reasons such as rapid obsolescence of laboratory equipment; emergence of expensive high-tech instrumentation, machinery and equipment; and the phenomenal increase in cost of books, journals and annual maintenance of sophisticated and proprietory equipments and components.

Research and Development

One year after independence, India spent only a meagre Rs. 11 million on R & D activity in the Central Government sector. Four decades later, the figure grew to more than Rs. 30,000 million. In the year 1991-92, Rs. 38,272.3 million were spent on R & D by the Central Government. The approximate corresponding figures for the states sector and the private sector are Rs. 3,719.4 million and Rs. 6,314.7 million bringing the total expenditure on R & D in 1991-92 to Rs. 48,306.4 million. Table - 1 indicates the rate of growth of Central Government expenditure on R & D activity in the last decade. Table - 2 provides the percentage share of Central Government R & D expenditure for various activities for the year 1990-91.

Another significant factor is the multiplicity of R & D agencies in the country, leading to a particular agency specialising in a particular type of activity. Table - 3 shows various scientific agencies involved in R & D activity and their percentage shares of the total Central Government R & D expenditure. There is a preponderance of Central Government expenditure on R & D in almost all spheres of activity. The percentage share of Central Government in national R & D expenditure by objectives for 1990-91 is presented, in Table - 4. It can be seen that Central Government accounted for about 80% of the total national R & D inputs in 1990-91, of which the major shares went into applied research and experimental development.

It is worth examining the growth of R & D in industry. Table - 5 indicates that R & D activity in industries in India is a recent phenomenon. The Government has taken several measures to promote research in industry. By the end of 1990-91, there were 1,164 in- house R & D units, in both the public and private sectors, and it is likely to grow to around 1,500 by the year 1995. The growth of R & D in industry remains, however, unimpressive. Details of R & D expenditure in the industrial sector in the recent years are given in the Table - 6. However, when adjusted to constant prices, the growth of R & D expenditure in industrial sector has a negative trend, as can be seen from Table - 7. In-house R & D activity is bound to receive a set-back at times of severe resource shortages. Advertising expenditure and expenditure required for purchase of plant and machinery etc. compete with R & D expenditure and, in a profit- oriented environment, take precedence for achieving short-term goals.

R & D expenditure by industry, as a percentage of total R & D expenditure, is only 21% in India, compared to 61% in U.K., 63% in Japan and 72% in U.S.A. The time has come for the Indian industry to increase its contribution to R & D through in-house R & D units and / or through supporting research in universities and technical education institutions. This is essential for survival against global competition.

Industry Outlays and Manpower Development

The State and Central Governments have invested heavily in the industrial sector during the various five year plans. A substantial share of these investments is in requiring technical man power support. However, Government investment for development of technical education has been inadequate. The lack of correlation between the outlays in the industrial sector and technical education sector has adversely affected the latter.