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Systemic Change: Science & Technology

Posted by [email protected]gmail.com on April 21, 2012 at 12:45 AM

What systemic changes would you like to see in the field of science & technology?

 

Why has no Indian won a Nobel Prize in physics, chemistry, biology or mathematics since CV Raman won it decades ago? If you say the Nobel is not a good yardstick to measure innovation, what about patents? Why is our tally in securing international patents so poor? What the hell are the IITs doing?


Here's our idea of transformation of the said domain:

  1. The best of our heritage in mathematics, medicine and astronomy must be revived. A thorough study is to be instituted to unearth the positive practices of the gurukul system of Kerala and the respective epochs and geographical extents of influence of Aryabhatta, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara II, Sushruta, Charaka et al. Adequate care will be taken not to incorporate the evil practices of the past, such as untouchability. Research & Development centres for ayurveda should be established nationwide.
  2. Another study will explore the changes in government policy adopted by the United States after it was repeatedly getting surpassed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic in the domain of science. We will find out what made the US lag till the 1950s and suddenly leapfrog to future from the late 1960s onwards. Whatever models therein suit the Indian conundrum will be adopted.
  3. It has already been studied and concluded that all scientifically advanced nations have an open-door policy for brilliant scientists of various nationalities. We shall create a political environment to facilitate citizenship offers to promising scientists from across the world. If they are found reluctant to practise in India because of lack of adequate infrastructure, the issue will be addressed in right earnest. People of Indian Origin working in reputed institutes of technology overseas will be allowed to retain their Indian citizenship; one born of PIO/NRI parents of singular citizenship (not of India) can apply for an Indian passport; the application will be treated favourably.
  4. The world is moving, perhaps not consciously but certainly, towards convergence of science streams. The future of science lies in dismantling of the compartments created by the British governments in India. Radiology, for example, cannot be a domain exclusive to physics or biology. History, for instance, is incomplete without the studies of archaeology, anthropology and geology. Union Government-aided institutions named, say, School of Integrated Sciences should be established through the length and breadth of the country. The IITs, AIIMS, IISc, etc must work on more and more mutually collaborative projects.
  5. Ivy League universities will be requested to set up study centres in India.
  6. We shall explore the feasibility of merging the Ministry of Human Resource Development with the Ministry of Science & Technology to ease the processes described above.
  7. It is an irony that the pharmaceutical industry should be governed by the Ministry of Chemical and Fertilisers. Since the said industry deals mostly with human lives, all chemicals used to treat human and animal diseases must be brought under the governance of the Ministry of Health. This will ensure better ethical practices by players of the industry.
  8. Recruiters in the government and semi-government sectors will give priority to international patent holders. The remuneration for patent holders will be substantially higher than their colleagues.
  9. Reasearchers and practitioners of rural India-oriented technology will be compensated adequately both in terms of salaries and perks.
  10. At least a hundred universities offering BSc and MSc in agriculture should be set up in the hinterlands, with 49% seats reserved for local students.
  11. The Union Government's policy documents pertaining to science and technology dated 1953 and 2003 have remained mere words on paper, witnessing gross underperformance in implementation. They are not meant to remain archive material. Matters agreed upon by former Cabinets should be implemented within another 10 years.


Debate on the topic on Facebook:

Prasanna Veeraraghavan: Primarily I cannot accept the fact that Indians have not won Noble in science after C V Raman. Chandrasekar and one more individual whose name I can't remember have won since then. May be they have not claled themselves Indian when they won it but the roots are always there.

I believe our institutions are not technically advanced to create an atmosphere for research. May be it has got to do more with the COLLEGE education we get here and the UNIVERSITY education that is being practiced elsewhere. Primarily this was good for the newly free India but at the same time on the long run it was not free.

Also the concept of the riches helping the poor especially in education is not an avenue that has yet found itself in India and even what little we bequeath goes more into primary education and not into research fields.

We should give more impetus financially and technically for research. I have often read and many of my IIT friends have told that its better to go for a well paid job than pursuing research in India as research is not a well paid job.

I believe better streamlining financially, technically and also increasing the facilities would surely make a good change atleast in the patent part of the research. (21 August at 10:37)


Surajit Dasgupta: I'd not accept the Nobels received by NRIs as essentially Indian. Had they stayed on in this country, they might not have succeeded. (21 August at 10:41)


Prasanna Veeraraghavan: Had they not stayed in this country who knows what would have been their positions? I cannot accept that they went elsewhere to make it big. The platforms were laid here and they pursued for betterment elsehwere. (21 August at 10:50)


Surajit Dasgupta: The "platform" here is only capable of producing clerks. The few who make it big are those open to ideas coming from the West, primarily the US. (21 August at 10:53)

 

Sanket Sunand Dash: I will try to reply to four separate questions: 1- Has India produced any Noble laureate in Science other than CV Raman 2- Why is India's standing in research so bad 3- Is there a link between patents and scientific publications 4- What is India's position in patents?

‎1- Subramanium Chandrasekhar, Hargovind Khurana, and Venkataraman Ramakrishnan did their doctoral studies in the US/UK. More importantly, they did their Nobel-prize winning research outside India. And none of them is an Indian citizen. Hence, they are not Indians.

2- The state of scientific research in India is due to:

1- Mother tongue is not the medium of scientific instruction

2- High discrepancy between salary of researchers and salary of corporate professionals

3- Low social status of researchers as they are neither wealthy nor powerful

4- Research and education are divorced in India

3- The link between number of scientific publications and number of patents is not very strong. Japan is ranked number 1 in terms of new patents granted and number 3 in terms of new scientific publications. South Korea is ranked number 3 in terms of new patents granted but probably does not feature in the list of top 10 countries by number of scientific publications. UK is ranked number two in terms of new scientific publications but is ranked number 9 in terms of new patent applications.

‎4- India is not ranked among the top 20 countries in terms of number of patents granted. However, India finds a place among the top20 countries by patents filings. Ominously,most patent fillings in India are by non-residents (mostly MNCs) and non-resident filings are increasing while resident filings are Decreasing. (21 August at 16:40)

 

Nitya Shastri: ‎Surajit Dasgupta, Prasanna Veeraraghavan, I grew up for 18 years in a community where 90% of the people were scientific researchers (Bhabha Atomic Research Center) who did extensive research in India as well as traveled widely to foreign lands for post-doctoral research. I had extensive interactions with the scientific community. Many of the scientists confessed that their quality of research was inferior within India than during their own tenures abroad. According to their viewpoints, they decried the "culture of sycophancy and favoritism", "regionalism (south versus north and language divide) ", "boss-servant style of management where boss steals all the credit", these were listed as significant morale killers within India while overseas they were free from such kind of daily pressures to their morale. Besides that "lack of funds" to get the latest equipment was also cited as an impediment (in case of experimental fields more than for theoretical fields). I do believe that scientists need complete freedom from mental pressures to produce quality work and this can be more possible abroad where individuality is celebrated more than "groupism" and "senior boss-takes-all the credit" culture is very rare.

Besides from experience in both environments, the Western society overall has a very STRONG tradition of "Sharing Credits" while our society seems more "boss-centric" ....( as a momentary digression from topic, if u have seen the Oscar awards where the credits mentioned by the winners go on forever ad-nauseum) . Getting credit for their work is extremely important for gifted people in most creative fields including research. There were cases where scientists committed suicide in BARC due to harassment by Boss or stolen credit for their hard work.

Such factors lead to decline in morale and quality.

Scientist suicides in India was not a random occurrence but a annual feature in BARC and mental harassment at work was cited as a factor in overwhelming majority of cases. These suicides were not financial (not surprisingly) by any means. Couple of years ago an Indian-born American scientist (Nobel-Chemistry) angrily refused to be called as Indian because he said nobody bothered to care about his work when he was in India. (21 August at 22:45)


Surajit Dasgupta: ‎Sanket Sunand Dash,

In your comments on patents, I hope you have taken into account international patents and not domestic ones. There are hundreds of Indian patents, for example, that cannot pass international scrutiny. (22 August at 09:26)

 

Sanket Sunand Dash: The data was from the wikipedia article on number of patents by country. Wikipedia data is sourced from WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization). (22 August at 11:19)


an idea exchange on Facebook

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1 Comment

Reply praveen kumar dubey
12:33 AM on February 25, 2014 
i totally agree with nitya shastri.and this is happening in every industry & every company or organisation.
it is very good platform.
i request to site owner to make it more public thru facebook,twitter etc.