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Making a pitch for scientific research

Spending money here is vital to our knowledge economy, says a surfer.

india Updated: Jul 20, 2006 11:57 IST

We carried a story on eminent scientist and chairman of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister Prof CNR Rao's recommendations made to Manmohan Singh for allowing therecruitment of scientists. One of our surfers wrote back to give his views on why he thought Prof Rao was bang on.

And this is what he had to say...

There is no doubt about India's booming economy and how it has created new jobs and opportunities to young and talented people in India. But this rapid growth in the economy should not be taken for granted and seen as being permanent. One look at the contributors to growth in our country will show the contribution of BPOs and related businesses to the current boom.

What has to be seen is till when will this continue to sustain the current growth rates? Here is where we need to think and look at what makes an economy in any state strong. I reckon, among other things it has to do with genuine scientific research.

If we look at USA, the amount of funding available to fundamental research exceeds $90 billion. I do understand that India does not have this kind of money to pour into research, but what is necessary is that the system be set-up in such a way that science is seen as a lucrative career option for a young graduate and he/she doesn't get sucked into the high paying BPOs/MNCs.

One of basic reason for lack of scientific growth in our country is that it is not made lucrative, i.e. it doesn't help you make a good living. Well, there could be other reasons too, but it is simple and straightforward fact that monetary benefits guide a person's career goals. It is true things should not be this way, but if a young graduate can't beat the system, he is going to follow it!

I also agree with the Prof Rao's suggestion of setting up a parallel mechanism for scientific and higher educational institutions. His example of the Indian Institute of Science and its working is worth replicating on a nationwide basis. His statistics on Indian contribution to world science is really shocking. There could be several reasons for this poor performance, but one of the biggest could be as pointed out by the professor, bureaucracy and red tape, rampant in India.

It is already difficult for a scientist to make real progress in science and when coupled with the hurdles he has to face to move a small pebble with the government, it could be an extremely frustrating experience.

The need of the hour is for the government to come up with an action plan and implement it soon. We have always been proud that our country is a knowledge economy and it's the knowledge that will keep us ahead of the rest.

Spending money in fundamental research is a corner stone to keep that advantage we boast of. I hope the Prime Minister takes Prof CNR Rao's suggestions seriously and does something good for the nation.

Seshadri Rajagopal is our regular surfer and is based in the US. He can be reached

All views and opinions presented in this article are solely those of the surfer and do not necessarily represent those of