October 9, 2009
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It is indeed a moment of pride for Indians to see Venkataraman Ramakrishnan sharing the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. Last time an Indian in India won a Nobel Prize was C V Raman in 1930. Since then no one in India had won a Nobel prize.

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. Of course 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.

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 the 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 that 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 centers. Moreover due to lack of proper encouragement and facilities and of course 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 Ramakrishna 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?

About author

Dr Shailesh Thaker

Dr. Shailesh Thaker is a world-renowned management thinker and trainer on organizational behavior and development. He is the CLO of Knowledge Plus Inc., a highly reputed training firm based in Ahmedabad, India, helping organizations to achieve international benchmarks in management practices.

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