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Trend of brain drain on reverse to India: Scientist

With many young Indian professionals returning home, the brain drain from India is being reversed, according to a senior Indian scientist.
None | By Indo-Asian News Service, London
PUBLISHED ON MAR 25, 2006 12:50 PM IST

With many young Indian professionals returning home to a country increasingly seen as a land of opportunity, the brain drain from India is being reversed, according to a senior Indian scientist.

RA Mashelkar, noted scientist and director general of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), told the BBC Hindi service that a growing number of young professionals were returning home to be part of India's economic boom.

"There was a time when nearly top 70 percent of the IIT (Indian Institute of Technology) pass-outs were going abroad, but the latest data shows that the percentage is down to 30. The main reason behind this is now India is being seen as a land of opportunity.

"Companies like Infosys and Wipro are now major employers. Reversal of brain drain has now begun. I would not call it a torrent, but definitely a trickle is there and with more opportunities in the country, we would see more professionals returning home", he said.

The Indian government, he said had decided to promote research in a big way. He mentioned the Ramanujan fellowship for Non-Resident Indians who wanted to conduct research in India. There was no limit to the number of awardees under the fellowship, he said.

"Those interested would be awarded the five year fellowship within two months of their applications being received and I promise there would be no bureaucratic hurdles. There would be a monthly grant of Rs 50,000 for the first two years and then Rs 60,000 for the next three years. A further grant would also be given so that there are no problems in completing the research," Mashelkar said.

The first person to be awarded the fellowship was Satish Ogle, a physicist from Maryland, US.

Asserting that efforts were on to preserve the traditional knowledge base in the country, Mashelkar said: "To protect the vast traditional knowledge in India, we have decided to set up a traditional knowledge digital library. The project, worth Rs.20 million, would be completed this year itself. We are going to begin with Ayurveda and then expand to Unani medicine system also.

"Within the CSIR also, we have experimented with the Golden Triangle project. In this, we are integrating the modern system of medicine, traditional system of medicine and the modern science," he said.

According to him, India was on track to become a knowledge superpower. But to attain this goal, there needed to be much focus on primary, secondary, higher and tertiary education, he said.

"Only six per cent of countrymen have access to higher education, whereas look at the figures of Korea, where this figure is 68 percent. We immediately need to increase the enrolment in higher education.

"However for this to happen, we would need to improve the standard of our universities. For statistics sake, we say there are more than 250 of them in the country, but I am sorry to say their standard is not up to the mark. We need to invest more in the universities.

"A good beginning has been made by the UGC through its initiative - universities for potential for excellence, in which 30 universities, including those of Pune and Hyderabad have been identified for more investment," he said.

He, however, regretted that technical education in the country was in a bad shape.

"At the moment, technical education in the country is in the form of a triangle. Seven IITs are centres of excellence, and more than 5000 ITIs are in a bad shape.

"While continuing to concentrate on the IITs, we would have to develop the regional engineering colleges (RECs), which have good students, and I am pleased to say that the Mashelkar Committee recommendations, which had suggested this have now been accepted by the government. One hundred RECs would be given the status of National Institute of Technology (NIT).

"In a country of hundred crores (one billion), it is a matter of shame that there is only a single Indian Institute of Science. We have now decided to set up five more Science Institutes, including in Pune, Kolkata and Chandigarh," Mashelkar said.

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