PhD aspirants at the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and other central science and engineering institutions may soon be exempt from the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE), the nation’s gateway to pursuing research at these schools.
Desperate to bridge an ever-widening research gap between India and China, the UPA government may allow postgraduate students at the IITs and other centrally funded technical institutions (CFTIs) to skip the GATE in joining PhD programmes.
The Standing Committee of the IIT Council (SCIC) – an executive sub-group of the apex decision making body of the IITs -- will discuss the plan at a key meet on November 5 at IIT Bombay specially called to discuss strategies to ramp up the country’s science research. Most PhD programmes at the IITs, National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and other central science schools currently consider GATE scores.
China and India were almost at par in quantity of peer-reviewed science research at the start of the millennium, but the eastern neighbour has leapfrogged almost four fold ahead over the past 12 years. Globally, China today provides almost 12% of the world’s research publications in science and engineering, while Indian research makes up just over 3%. India also continues to lag significantly behind the developed world in both quantity and quality of science and engineering research. The US share in world research has declined sharply from the 1980s – when Japan and Korea began a massive expansion – but it remains the undisputed leader, with just under 30% of the world’s science and engineering research.
The new proposal is among a set of recommendations made by a team of top scientists under former atomic energy czar Anil Kakodkar by human resource development (HRD) minister Kapil Sibal to scale up research at the IITs.
The Kakodkar panel has set a target of increasing India’s annual science and engineering PhD output from about 9000 at present to 40,000 by 2025. The IITs alone contribute about 1000 of the current PhDs each year. China already produces about 50,000 PhDs in science and engineering each year.