Welcome increase in Lanka's R&D budget
323 Vidatha Centres to
link scientists to rural Lanka
Minister : Prof.Tissa Vitharana
RESEARCH: The Government hopes to increase its spending on the
Research and Development (R and D) up to one percent of the total Gross
Domestic Product (GDP). On an average Sri Lanka invests only 0.18 per
cent, Minister of Science and Technology Prof.Tissa Vitharana said.
He said that compared to other countries in the region Sri Lanka's
allocation on R and D is below the required standards. At present
Bangladesh, (0.2 per cent), Pakistan (1 per cent), India (1.3 per cent)
and East Asian countries (exceeds more than two per cent of GDP) are
above Sri Lanka.
"Our roads and houses are getting vehicles and televisions and other
appliances from South Korea which invests more than 2.64 per cent of
their GDP on R and D, which is the root cause for that country's
development," Minister Vitharana said.
In the Budget of 2005, the allocation for R and D was doubled under
the Mahinda Chintana and the allocation for 2006 has further increased.
This is a good trend and we are still short of the one per cent of
GDP that the country requires, the Minister of Science and Technology
'The Ministry is trying to create better working and living
conditions for our scientists so that they can do R and D that will
generate the appropriate technology the country needs,' Prof. Vitharana
For this we must stop the massive brain drain, which results in our
best talents going abroad. "About 263 of the 2400 scientists working at
NASA in USA are our Sri Lankans.
"Although this is an achievement, I feel we are losing them when we
need their talents to develop our country," Minister Vitharana said.
The Ministry of Science and Technology is trying to change the
mindset of the scientific community in general so that they will go
further than producing scientific papers that would enable the country
to develop the technology, he said.
However, the Minister said that technology we develop should be
relevant to the diverse human resources in the rural sector in the
For this purpose the Government will set up 323 Vidatha Centres in
all administrative divisions and these centres will be provided with
computers that are linked to the scientific establishments, which will
enable the scientist to become aware of rural needs.The Government has
allocated Rs 320 million, which is a three-year programme and this year
it will establish 200 Vidatha Centres in the country.
According to the Minister the people are encouraged to form voluntary
scientific centres, which will enable them to obtain free training in
computer at these centres.
Prof. Vitharana said that those who don't know English could access
computers and communicate in Sinhala and Tamil as well. These centres
extended with the Government's Nanasala programme to bridge the computer
gap that existed by permitting poor people without knowledge of English
to access through computers, he said.
It is hoped the Vidatha Centres will eventuality be linked to
computers in Government offices which are being developed under the
e-governance programme and would later bring people closer to fast track