What will Facilitate 'Research' in India?

Author: M.S. Ananth
Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
It's important to give all that you have when you have the chance. Most of the technologists in the Valley may not be contributing their all, but they put the best efforts to contribute back to their alma mater. Gururaj Deshpande and Kris Gopalakrishnan, among others, are some of the biggest patrons of IIT-Madras. This culture is what IITs are benefiting from today. The early Indian technologists, who migrated to the U.S. and attained numerous achievements, are now returning back to their alma mater. This reflects the pool of highly successful technologists the IITs have created in the Valley. Statistics show that over 50 percent of the Intellectual Properties in the U.S. have Indian names behind them, of which 70 percent are IITians. Of the estimated 35,000 IITians in the U.S. today, a majority is known to founding technology companies, filing patents for disruptive technologies, or heading technology teams. The IITians rule the roost in the corporate ladder as CEOs, presidents, or head researchers indicating their significant role in driving innovation in the Valley.

Such an achievement needs to be at least partially attributed to the quality of education the IITs have continued to impart to all its students starting from the under graduate level. The curriculum in our institutes ensures that the student does not have any holes in his background, while the education in MIT or Princeton is more liberal and it is possible for students to graduate with important subjects left out. In fact years ago, during one of my trips to Princeton, I had a chance to meet Professor Reed of the Chemical Engineering Department of MIT and he told me that IIT under graduates were exceptional in that their knowledge was without holes.

In spite of such vast difference in the quality of education, the U.S. has been identified as the hub of technology research. One needs to understand that the U.S. has always had the right climate for research, while other countries are just catching up. For years, the U.S. has been bringing bright minds together in its graduate schools because it is a country of immigrants and the cultural differences actually make it effective for people to grasp things better. It is all about a meeting of unlike minds.

University Research Parks in the U.S. have been fertile grounds for innovation. Louis Pasteur once said, “…discovery is the result of chance meeting a prepared mind.” We have been preparing the minds well for several decades and chance has been meeting them in the Silicon Valley.

Research Parks bring together three kinds of minds – that of the faculty that is well versed in their areas of specialization, that of the industrial researcher who sees the opportunity in ideas applicable to the market place, and the student who is unburdened with knowledge and is not afraid to articulate creative yet unusual ideas. This combination has worked very well and our students who have gone there have been very creative.

It need not be misunderstood that research is not prioritized in India. For example TENET, a group founded and headed by my colleague Professor Ashok Jhunjhunwala over two decades ago, has been focusing on innovative research in the field of telecommunication and networking. Starting with a fund of $500,000 from Analog Devices during its early days, TENET has since incubated over 16 technology companies that spun off its research projects. One such company, Midas, recently crossed the Rs. 1,000 crore mark.

Focusing on the importance and need for research, we have been developing several programs that will facilitate research and development in India. The last five years have also seen a tremendous headway in the institute’s research activities. The number of research publications has tripled in eight years, indicating that the faculty is taking research more seriously than before. On an average, we now graduate nearly 200 PhD students a year in science, engineering, and humanities. Of the 1,000 articles published annually, about 750 are in international journals. This number used to be merely 250-300 till 2001.

Currently, IIT-M is building a first of its kind university research park in the vicinity of its campus, which will aid both in-house and industry related research bringing together people from R&D centers of companies, our faculty, and students. Spread over 11.5 acres, the park is being modeled after the ones at MIT and Stanford. Nearly 30 companies have already signed up for research and we hope to see close to 100 companies joining the effort by the time the park is fully built.

Alumni too have been giving back to the institute both in terms of research funds and expertise. Venture capitalists have been investing in early stage entrepreneurial projects, leveraging the institute’s incubation cell. Of every five projects that the IIT proposes, four get funded, which is a feat in itself.

With the foundations for eight more IITs in the country laid, it is a positive sign for the emergence of India as an innovative research hub of the world.
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Reader's comments(9)
1: From: Mrs. Mary David

This mail may be a surprise to you because you did not give me the permission to do so and neither do you know me but before I tell you about myself I want you to please forgive me for sending this mail without your permission. I am writing this letter in confidence believing that if it is the will of God for you to help me and my family, God almighty will bless and reward you abundantly. I need an honest and trust worthy person like you to entrust this huge transfer project unto.

My name is Mrs. Mary David, The Branch Manager of a Financial Institution. I am a Ghanaian married with 3 kids. I am writing to solicit your assistance in the transfer of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars. This fund is the excess of what my branch in which I am the manager made as profit last year (i.e. 2010 financial year). I have already submitted an annual report for that year to my head office in Accra-Ghana as I have watched with keen interest as they will never know of this excess. I have since, placed this amount of US$7,500,000.00 Dollars on an Escrow Coded account without a beneficiary (Anonymous) to avoid trace.

As an officer of the bank, I cannot be directly connected to this money thus I am impelled to request for your assistance to receive this money into your bank account on my behalf. I agree that 40% of this money will be for you as a foreign partner, in respect to the provision of a foreign account, and 60% would be for me. I do need to stress that there are practically no risk involved in this. It's going to be a bank-to-bank transfer. All I need from you is to stand as the original depositor of this fund so that the fund can be transferred to your account.

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Mrs. Mary David.
Posted by: mary lovely david - Monday 26th, September 2011
2: Hi my dear,
My name is Mounace, i would like to establish a true relationship with you in one love. please send email to me at ( i will reply to you with my picture and tell you more about myself. thanks and remain blessed for me,
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Posted by: mounace love love - Thursday 09th, June 2011
3: I have written a blog on related trend of
global research centers in India by leading foreign universities ( ). IIT-B partnered with Monash University while Harvard Business School has launched its own research center. This would immensely help Indian universities in developing a culture and approach towards research which would be both cutting edge and rewarding. Likewise, foreign universities gain immensely from the research engagement, networking, brand visibility and local presence in India.

Rahul Choudaha, PhD
Posted by: Rahul Choudaha PhD - Tuesday 01st, December 2009
1. Liberalisation prerequisite -Internal Discipline- Index
2. Global Technology Assimilation -prerequsite-Technology strength-Index
3. Science and Technology Advancement -Prerequisite-Technology Management-Index
4. Nuclear Technology- Prerequisite- Regulation- Index
5. Cosmology Research Necessity-Best of the Brains Trust- Index Cosmic Signatures
6. Neutral Governance- Necessity-Demands- Conscious Index
Vidyardhi Nanduri
Cosmology World Peace
Posted by: vidyardhi Nanduri - Monday 23rd, November 2009
5: What is improving Research Climate in India is the excess money generated out of copycat manufacturing at lower prices yielding bigger margins in India due to cheaper but reasonably welltrained or easily trainable labor availability in India, now sparable for research for the other area of investment are and will be saturating and one way to push business is to make forays into new areas. Like so there is lot of money available with consumers in India to do experimental buying.

My advise to the two Saurashtran youth lamenting the non-existence of premier institutions is to go ahead and invest in ideas wit or wthout yur college degrees. The courage to experiment that was lacking in erstwhile cash-strapped middle class India today can hope to garner some factors of production at affordable capital. Originality is not built by Insitutions. Premier Institutions can only channelise existing talent into usable form. Maybe the surfeit of New Ideas floating around could inspire even the otherwise low key people to try and innovate.
The key to creating a Research atmosphere in India, is developing respect for knowledge and trust in our own abilities to do original contributions. Why did the first generation IITians go to US to be successful when the whole idea was to have a talent pool to build this country?

The research climate that is getting built in India now, if that is truly so, is due to availability of Venture Capital, like Sudha Murthy selling off her shares to generate capital and that coming someone who better understands and trusts innovation to definitely yield results and the possibility of the emerging fields needing Research set-ups that are affordable.
Posted by: MAHADEVA S SARMA - Sunday 22nd, November 2009
6: I am also from Rajkot in Saurashtra. Many a times I feel just as Mr bakul does. He has many points which are valid but to which there are no answers. I simply look at this in this way. You are an Indian first and must make use of the oppurtunities, however minute , available to you . Feeling marginalized, though natural , makes you wallow in self pity and that is the last thing we need. Moral of the story - move on.
sanjay doshi
Posted by: Sanjay Doshi - Wednesday 11th, November 2009
7: Dear Sir,
Thanks for the vital information regarding the IITs and it's activity. Yes you people have together created great welth of knowledge.

But Sir I have some questions. I hope you are the best person to answer them.

1. In India why we do not have unified education system, where along with Science, Maths, History, Mother Tongue/State language and English be taught without discrimination.

2. I observe for last three decades since the acquaintance of reading capacity that in India, there is English speaking and non English speaking population. English speaking are respected as talented and well versed, and non english speaking as "unpadh" why?!
World over People respect mother tongue and National language, I wonder still Hindi is not accepted as National language my many people across the nation! Whose is the failure?

All the intellectual development and industrial development is centered and located in the areas which has higher English speaking population and near the metros, where is the use of equal distribution of wealth, intellectual property, natural resources?

I am from Saurashtra, a region of Gujarat State, here is nothing in terms of development initiative from central government. A region which produced gems of humanity like Gandhiji does not have water to quench thirst of it's people for last sixty years!

Why Intellectuals like you think of giving something to the people of this region. We don't have a single Technical College of National level, not any Technological park!

Even in Gujarat in general we do not have IIT which is no. one state as GDP generator for India, it is second richest state in India for more then four decades, then why Gujarat is discriminated towards the allocation of intellectual property!

Whether it is Railway, Technology, Tourism, Education or International reach and exposure, we are marginalized!

Why the state of Gujarat and particularly the region of Saurashtra is denied it's respectful place in the progress of the nation?

I born and brought up in Rajkot City of Saurashtra region, still today we do not have any premier institution in this capital of Saurashtra, neither in technology or in science. We have to go to Baroda or Ahmedabad for higher studies. Not a single government agency, central or the state government is interested this region of highly enterprising people in terms of Business, Technology, Humanity and spirituality?

I hope you can take these question seriously.

As an individual, I am a creative and innovative soul. I had my Visual Communication degree from M.S.U. Baroda in 1993. I can design not only Advertisement and marketing tools but Automobiles, Interiors, Buildings Products and Traffic I-Lands to almost any thing, even I brainstormed an aircraft safety system! I have on my own started a KPO firm namely FreemanKPO Consultants (url: to offer multiple services. You can visit my web too.

Similarly my younger brother is a self made technocrat. He is a 12th fail guy, but with his talent and interest in mass manufacturing and sound experience in mechanical, hydraulics and pneumatics have designed, developed and manufactured more then seven Special Purpose Machines, all of successfully working and meeting the requirements of his clients!

There are thousands of such highly telented self made technocrats in the region of Saurashtra, my urge is to wake up to the reality, give us chance to be in the main stream, you are among the senior most intellectuals in the nation please take some initiative, I also do the same in my capacity but the deterrent is the responsibility of my home with limited resources!
Posted by: Bakul Valambhiya - Saturday 24th, October 2009
8: While agreeing with some points with Prof. Ananth, I want to recall the views of Dr.P. Gupta Bhaya, Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur on Engineering Research:

“A related problem, especially in engineering research is the role of developmental work in graduate programme. Considerable originality is often involved in designing an engineering system indigenously and implementing it in a given local context. If the requirement of a Ph.D degree is originality, such activity justifiably deserves a Ph.D degree. Acceptance of this view point will bring in relevance, increased experimental activity and enthusiasm in graduate school in Engineering.

Research in Engineering faculty suffers from a dearth of Ph.D students. Introduction of an intermediate research degree of say 2 years' duration may be able to attract employed engineers. The attraction of such a programme will also be enhanced if we agree to accept developmental research with originality as sufficient for a degree and are willing to tailor the programme to the needs of specific employers viz. the Defence and the Industry.
Most students entering the graduate programmes are inadequately prepared to different extents. We take them for their intrinsic academic qualities, but should be willing to rectify the shortcomings in their training. The training program, as it stands today is inadequate and unrealistic. Some fresh entrants may need to take undergraduate courses. Rules must allow them to take the courses they need. A core programme may be necessary for all new graduate students - M.Tech and Ph.D - in Mathematics, Computation and Instrumentation. All this may need an extension in the duration of at least the M.Tech programme.”

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore (AP)
Posted by: Anumakonda Jagadeesh - Thursday 22nd, October 2009
9: how can a corrupt society move ahead in research or anything else...when the director of IIT (D) can not rise above petty things, vested interests and corruption how can the IIT think of rising at the international level...The IITs are good but have not broken the barrier . Why ? they shoul have been among the top Instittes but where are they..not in the top 100...plain boasting is not good...the patents which IIT alumni get is due to the companies they join and their own hard work..what has IIT has to do with it..
Posted by: asheesh shah - Monday 19th, October 2009
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