Wanted: Indian nationals working as climate change scientists in the US, Europe and Japan. Please come home.
At a time when global warming has made climate change research the hot new job, India has launched a desperate international search for scientists across about 100 universities and research centres in Europe, Japan and the US - in centres like the universities of Maryland, Washington and Florida. The recruitment drive will coax experienced NRI scientists to give up lucrative jobs to study the monsoon, rising sea levels and temperatures in India.
The IITM in Pune needs 56 scientists in 5 years
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But the big question is: will the diaspora holding PhD qualifications return to gross salaries similar to pay cheques of fresh call centre recruits, or even lower than what MBA trainees earn?
India's top climate research centre, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune that supplies climate change data to SAARC nations including Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan, needs 56 scientists in the next five years. As ageing scientists retire, this is the IITM's biggest recruitment drive for senior scientists since over a decade.
"We are targeting Indian nationals in 100-odd organisations abroad. They have received our advertisement," BN Goswami, Director IITM, told the Hindustan Times from Pune. "I am also personally identifying people abroad for recruitment through an email network. It's harder than finding a physicist willing to return, since competitive climate change jobs are opening up worldwide."
Seventeen IITM scientists will retire this year, and more next year. "It will create a big void," said K Krishna Kumar, programme manager of IITM's climate dynamics and change group. Until last year, the IITM budget was Rs 10 crore a year. That, Kumar pointed out, is what a top climatologist can earn in a year in the US.
"The quality of PhD candidates is deteriorating. Getting some of the best NRI scientists for the vacancies won't be easy," added Kumar, also a reviewer of the United Nations climate change report released in Paris last week. Goswami is currently processing the responses, which are "unfortunately, not great" because of low pay potential. "But we can offer an exciting environment for research."
So the crux of the message: your country needs you. "Bright scientists will return if they have the commitment to do something for their country," emphasised Goswami. At least global warming has, to some extent, impacted the institute's funding from the Centre. This year it will finally receive Rs 100 crore and a supercomputer.