Why is it that United States has won 353 Nobel Prizes but India only eight?

Why is it that United States has won 353 Nobel Prizes but India only eight -1

Answer by Sunny Mewati:

United States of America's rise as the world leader in research and development has coincided with the rise of the Nobel Prize as the 'paramount' award in every field that it is awarded. There are hundreds of reasons why the United States of America has won a disproportionately high number of Nobel Prizes compared to India ( and China, Russia, Japan etc).

There is on average a fifty year time lag between publication of relevant research and that research being awarded the Nobel Prize. Post WWI, American R&D raced past German and British R&D. Post WWII stability boosted it further. Research done in that era when United States was thriving while the rest of the world was struggling with post war reconstruction is now being awarded the Nobel Prize. It will take the same amount of time for present Indian research to make a lasting contribution to academia.

Nobel Prize in literature are an exception. Nobel Prize in literature is heavily biased towards western style of prose published in English. Yes, poets who write in other languages have won it in the past but it is still a rarity. Most of Indian literature is anecdotal and oral folklore, passed down across generations but not recorded and published. Most published literature in Tamil, Bengali and Marathi etc is poetry which does not appeal to Nobel Committee actively searching for works of prose written in English. This is also the reason why despite having some of the best written literature in the world, Iran and the Arab world has won so few literature Nobel's.

We are not backward. We do have our problems that do not allow us to exorbitantly spend on R&D. We are looking for ways to circumvent that hurdle and we will in due course of time. We need time for our present research to be recognized.

Yes, we do have a big problem when it comes to manpower. The industry-academia salary mismatch prevents a lot of bright minds from entering academia. Neither are our research institutions world class. This needs years of concerted efforts to overcome. I for one am not very optimistic about the growth of academic research in India, at least in my field of economics.

Why is it that United States has won 353 Nobel Prizes but India only eight?


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