Bangalore: It is indeed a moment of pride for Indians to see Venkataraman Ramakrishnan sharing the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. The last time an Indian in India won a Nobel Prize was C V Raman in 1930. Since then no one in India has won a Nobel Prize in Science.
We have come a long way since 1930. Though leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru envisioned better research in India while creating premier institutes like IITs and IIMs, yet even after more than 60 years of independence, somewhere down the lane, they are yet to fulfill the mission they were built for. Ofcourse they churn out some of the best entrepreneurs in the world. Check any successful Indian company, and chances are there will be an IITian among its top executives. Talk about experienced entrepreneurs and successful organizations, and several names from IITs and IIMs crop up.
In the conversation with CNN IBN, Professor Umesh Varshney, Associate Professor UFHT Medical College says, "These things require the kind of facilities which are only now becoming available to us in India. But I'm sure if spoken to Dr Ramakrishnan, he would praise the teachers he had here and it is with that basic knowledge he has been able to achieve what he has achieved."
The efficiency in space through Chandrayaan is referred as a great success and missile programmes and nuclear powered submarines are gearing up India's strategic capability. But these are developments in technology and its application to a specific end. We are yet to see any great flourishing of basic research.
Very few institutions undertake serious research in India. The country's universities are more successful business ventures and examination conducting machines who feed data but are incapable to trigger the thought processes and inquisitiveness to go beyond the classrooms and text books. Expanding the frontiers of knowledge is not a priority for Indian academia. Papers are published for the sake of personal or professional achievement. Very few of these papers are cited by other researchers around the world reports The Economic Times.
A yawning gap exists between teaching done in universities, and research houses in specialized research centres. Moreover due to lack of proper encouragement and facilities and ofcourse the pay factor, the brightest mind flee to other countries. Universities and research organizations do not interact. Faculty pay is at a steep discount to what comparable skills would fetch in industry, ensuring that very few of those who fill academic posts embody first rate talent.
More discouraging is the recent row on the salary hikes of the professors of IITs. The Nobel prize for Ramakrishnan will surely spark the fire in the minds of many young researchers and students. But who will make sure they don't flee to the lands of opportunities to fulfill their dream?