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'Scientists are no film stars or politicians'

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Chennai, January 04, 2011
First Published: 23:56 IST(4/1/2011) | Last Updated: 23:58 IST(4/1/2011)

Senior scientist and Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan was miffed by the attention and adulation he has been receiving at the ongoing Indian Science Congress here and asked people not to confuse scientists with cricketers and film stars.


Hundreds of school children and photographers hounded the tall Indian-American scientist, who was dressed in grey trousers and a dark green shirt, for autographs and pictures everywhere he went.

"We sure would love to have a picture with Venky (as he is popularly known)," said a Class 10 student.

People mobbed him even when he was escorting fellow Nobel Prize winner Thomas Steitz to the Pride Of India exhibition held as part of the Congress, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday.

"I was mobbed and found it difficult to move around the hall. It was unfortunate. I could not explain to him (Steitz) the advances made by Indian science because of the commotion," Ramakrishnan said at the inaugural session of the Children Science Congress.

Ramakrishnan, who won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2009 along with two other scientists, asked people not to confuse scientists for celebrities.

"Scientists are not movie stars or politicians who will feel insulted if they are not showered with accolades. Scientists are not interested in accolades," he said.

At every session he could speak only for 15 minutes. The rest, he said, was pure ceremony.

"Scientists are not doing anything for the country. Science is an international enterprise where developments in one part of the world are useful in other parts," he said.

"The traffic should be both ways and at present the flow from the West to India is more," he noted.

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