As 12 Nobel laureates from across the world, along with a galaxy of other renowned scientists, gathered at the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) campus here on the second day of their week long conference, one question bothered many of the Indian delegates: why has India failed to produce a sufficiently large crop of Nobel prize winners?
“Though our educational system is second to none, we still lack something,” said V.P. Kumar who heads the International Science and Technology Cooperation division of the Department of Science and Technology, which has organised the gathering, along with the Union HRD ministry.
It was not as if red tape and lack of sufficient funds for research was India’s problem alone. Scientist after scientist narrated personal experiences of how they had to battle bureaucrats to pursue their vocation.
Prof Matin Lewis Perl of the United States revealed that the current historic experiment simulating the conditions that existed at the dawn of creation being carried out at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research could have taken place 15 years ago had not bureaucrats come in the way.
Kumar held that cutting edge scientific research in India began only in the mid 1980s, and that we were still catching up.
The Nobel laureates attending included Anthony James Liggett, Robert Coleman Richardson, Hersko Ferenc, Martin Lewis Perl, Jerome Isaac Friedman, Harold Walter Kroto and India’s sole surviving member of the club — Rajendra K. Pachauri.
(With inputs from K. Sandeep Kumar)