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Scouting for nuclear scientists in villages

The Department of Atomic Energy is scouting for fresh talent in rural and “not so urban” India as the youth there is “less inclined to pursue careers overseas.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2008 11:01 IST

Aspiring to be a nuclear scientist? Your chances of becoming one could be bright if you hail from the rural parts of the country. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is scouting for fresh talent in rural and “not so urban” India as the youth there is “less inclined to pursue careers overseas”.

Head hunters at the premier government department have found that there is not much of a difference in the “inherent intellectual capacity” between the youth belonging to urban and rural parts of the country. “The youth residing in the metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata are more inclined to go abroad to pursue higher studies or jobs,” DAE Secretary Anil Kakodkar said.

He admitted that India’s nuclear establishment is facing challenges on the human resources development front as many students preferred foreign jobs to the domestic ones. “We are essentially focusing on rural areas or not so urban areas to recruit young talent,” Kakodkar said. People from rural areas or semi-urban areas tend to migrate to bigger cities, stay there longer and then seek greener pastures, he added.

The selection process also targets persons who tend to stay with the nation’s nuclear programme for a longer period as against the inclination of city youth to change jobs within a couple of years. Kakodkar said he expected the implementation of the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations would help attract more talent to the nuclear research.

The country is building a state-of-the-art 500-MW Fast Breeder Reactor, expected to be commissioned in the next two years, which uses spent fuel from uranium powered plants to generate power. The DAE aims to generate 2,500 MW power from Fast Breeder Reactors by 2020. It is also building the Advanced Heavy Water Reactor as a part of the final stage of its three-stage nuclear programme. India is expected to add another 1,500 MW of nuclear power to the national grid in 2009 by commissioning at least three nuclear power units.

Currently, the country has capacity to generate 4,120 MW of nuclear power but due to shortage of nuclear fuel most of the units are running a little over half their capacity. Kakodkar said the situation will improve with India entering into civil nuclear cooperation agreements with several countries including the US, France and Russia.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, which has the mandate to run atomic power plants in the country, is also exploring joint ventures with private domestic industries to set up nuclear plants. He said the country aims to generate 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020, of which half of it would come from indigenously-developed Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors.