The Indian government is looking at setting up a research and development (R&D) fund of Rs5bn ($121m) specifically for petrochemicals. Priority would be given for research projects aimed at developing technologies that address the country’s feedstock shortage. This includes the use of bio-diesel as a feedstock instead of gas and naphtha.
The government’s interest in petrochemicals is encouraging but I wish it would develop a wider vision. The amount earmarked is miniscule when compared with what some of the top chemical companies in the West are spending to stay ahead on the technology curve. The R&D spend of the top five chemical companies exceeds $1bn and all of them are looking at aggressively studying alternative feedstocks. India is already late in the game and catching up with the leaders will be impossible unless the government gets more aggressive.