We think of engineering, and IIT clicks in our brains in an instant . We feel proud, and don’t give a second thought to science research in India.Degrees in science, M.Sc’s and M.Tech’s, are now very common in India, thanks to the mass opening of sub-standard engineering colleges and private universities. As many as 1500 new colleges opened in 2008, like wild mushrooms. Also, though the AICTE conducts a central examination for admission to engineering courses, most colleges do not take into account merit or the academic brightness of its aspirants; rather, money (read-donation) is a bigger criterion.
Indians may have good aptitude and high IQ levels, but we have very few good research organizations. In fact, we can count them on fingers- Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Indian Institute of Science and IISER Pune. Take into account the billion plus population, the population-institute ratio for the same is close to nil.
Why are there so few research institutes? I would say, primarily because of poor foresight and vested political interests. Our politicians are, supposedly, attracted only to immediate rewarding ventures, and since scientific research is apparently not a big deal, it suffers step-motherly treatment from the government. For the same reason, the government gives hefty scholarships to courses in arts, but not in research. It is unfortunate that even though we had an eminent science personality, Dr Kalam, as President, India neither saw any major developments in science, nor the setting-up of quality institutions for research.
Another reason for poor research in science is the diminishing inclination of people towards pursuing a doctorate in science. Insufficient scholarships or support from the government is one reason, and strong competition to get through to few above mentioned institutes is the other, for general loss of interest in research.
Growth is one part to industrial development, development is another. What our leaders do not realize is that for an industry to sustain, it requires not just engineers, but a strong Research and Development (R&D) department. And, no institutes mean lack of research, which further implies stagnant development that the future will see.
India Shining- Wow! India is expected to be a developed nation by 2015.
But let’s not just bask in the current industrial growth of 9% and be content. Only a decade later will we run out of enough scientists, which will be a deterrent to further development and India Inc.