The State of Indian Science

Faizi
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The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 16 Oct 2000 12:40

Hi, <BR> This time's outlook cover story is on the poor state of Indian scientific research.<BR> <A HREF="http://www.outlookindia.com/20001023/coverstory.htm" TARGET=_blank>www.outlookindia.com/20001023/coverstory.htm</A> <BR> and links therein.<BR> <BR> The article among other things criticises the National research labs--CSIR and CMIR. It quotes people making some very disturbing remarks like "public health research is almost dead in India" and other statements like "78% of supervisors felt that hardly any thesis made any intellectual contribution" etc.<BR> I am aware that a large amount of the good science in India is largely theoretical, partly due to lack of resources, but I have also been aware that a lot of research in India which is supposed to have direct practical implications (eg. medical research, engg. research etc.) is usually geared to problems and research done in the u.s. The problem with this is especially acute in medicine, where the focus in the u.s and europe is largely on non tropical diseases. For example, I know that very few in the u.s work on a cure for malaria and related diseases. This makes for repetitive, unoriginal work.<BR> I would like comments on these matters and the general state of scientific research in India and the probable reasons for the state of affairs.<BR>

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 16 Oct 2000 13:58

Salman,<BR> It would be nice if you can dig up the information you collected. I also spent a good part of my childhood in one of the best research institutes in india (iisc) and I also have come to believe that there is something missing in the functioning of research institutes in india. I found a certain lack of accountability in these places. Also, many faculty who started out being quite active at the time of joining, became pretty much dead researchwise within a few years.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby James Bund » 16 Oct 2000 21:20

Salman's statement seems to be a gross exageration.One would really need to determine the validity of the publishing aspects of science to make such sweeping comments.Most publishing has more to do with the dynamics of funding requirements than science of any significant description.<P>Secondly science takes money,unless you are willing to devote resources to play in the big leagues there is little point in making such comparisions.A mediocre researcher with a $200,000 budget(yes mediocrity may merit such budgets) will publish in the better journals especially if he is plugged into the great scientific publishing community,whereas an astute Indian with his Rs 50,000 budget will get nowhere.<BR>Anyway I am not sure if the SCI figures have been studied to determine any deeper relationshps than the obvious ones.<P>As an aside,radio transmission,LCD displays and the identification of NO as the endothelial derived relaxation factor have significant Indian contributions that you are unlikely to hear of.Wonder why?<BR>Swedes are quirkily overrepresented in the Nobels-brilliant guys aint they?<P>The area is fertile for a good look and a good book.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby George J » 16 Oct 2000 23:02

"Public Health Research is Almost dead in india."<P>Well i can assure you it did not die of natural causes, it is being slowing murdered. That is why even if some idiot sitting in Mysore produces a highly mediocre paper on public health it still gets published in LANCET. Not coz the work is good but coz there is nothing of standard emerging from India in this field, so whatever comes out is the standard.<BR>Unlike high tech thingamajigs that most people associate with pure science and medical research, public health research requires very little money to conduct and you dont need very advanced degrees either, but the idiots that are called DEANS in Med colleges in india are too blooming wrapped up in their peon-politics to think otherwise. Public health reseach does owe most of its genesis in Medical Colleges and thats where its being killed of in its infancy.<P>The sum of it all is that research in India is dead not because the individual cannot do it, the collective does not want it.<BR>

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 17 Oct 2000 12:25

Salman,<P>I wonder if you are using the Science Citation Index database to generate the above data. Because when I did an abbreviated journal name search (for Phys. Rev. Lett.), followed by an address word search (India) and combined the results from the two searches, I got the number 67 (as your post shows). However when I repeated the same for China, I got "zero". Going a step back, in fact, the *total* number of papers cited with a China address for the year 1998 was 53 according to my search! Now did all these 53 papers get published (only) in Phys. Rev. Lett. in the year 1998? <P>Further, I did the search for Taiwan, Korea, Japan and I respectively got 35, 00 and 271. Again, the *total* number of papers cited with a Korea address in the year 1998 was 50 according to my search.<P>There seems to be a serious mismatch here. Is Science Citation Index not a reliable database or what? Well till yesterday, I believed that it was!

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 17 Oct 2000 14:21

Guru Dronacharya,<BR> You are right that practically all scientists are absorbed in Government institutions. However, it is not correct that there is no place for new people. In fact, the outlook article points out that the science laboratories are in need of new people. The sad fact is that while India does produce a large number of graduates every year, most of the degree granting institutions are below standards. This poor undergraduate and school education is reflected to an extent in the poverty of scientific research in India. Besides having funds, it is neccesary to have students with a good preliminary grounding to be able to produce good work. What aggravates matters is that the institutes that can potentially give a really top notch education to kids out of school in the sciences refuse to do so. (All of IISc, TIFR, CCMB, Raman Research Institute, etc. do not run undergraduate programs.). <BR> I also believe that a lack of funding is not the sole reason for poor scientific research in India. There are institutions which do get a fair bit of money, but do not show results. Also, standards in a vast majority of universities are so poor that just throwing money for research at them is not going to get you any results. I once had a conversation with an academic who was on the AICTE and UGC commitees which decide funding to universities etc, and he gave me examples of universities who were given money as well as specific projects to execute, but who did not come up with any results whatsoever even after a few years. <BR> It is really wrong to believe that there is nothing wrong with Indian science. The fact is that it is on the decline. There was a study published in Nature a couple of years ago which showed that the amount of scientific output from India has fallen by about 20% over a period of 20(?) or so years. This is an alarming trend. I also think that while there is a dearth of money for things like vaccines etc. there are still health and other related problems which are specific to India and which need a lot of scientific attention. We cannot expect that the richer countries are going to work on issues which are not related to them.<BR> The poverty of scientific research is symptomatic of the generic poverty of the Indian education system itself. Many people believe that most of India's education problems stem from a lack of resources. This is true to an extent, but an equally weighty factor is the inefficiency in it.<BR> Furthermore, one may wonder why it is important to do research that is not applied. The simple reason is that this sort of research is the framework on which applied work is done. India definitely needs more of both.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby jairaj » 17 Oct 2000 14:28

<I> The monopoly of mega-science such as space, atomic and nuclear research has relegated the more relevant and pressing problems of India's poor to the background. More than 60 per cent of the total corpus is hogged by the departments of defence, space and atomic energy; only eight per cent goes to university sciences. </I><P>Excellent analysis.<BR>And the "research" in these mega-corps is not research at all - it is a type of reverse engineering, copying by trial and error until it clicks. Without knowledge or the ability to derive ideas from first principles we will be forever doomed to do reverse engineering from copied blueprints.<P>Degrees in India are regarded as meal tickets, nothing more. Whereas a Caltech/Stanford graduate in aerospace engineering has some genuine interest and dedication to aerospace, his Indian counterpart from an IIT would gladly write COBOL if that pays more. IIT degree or any degree is mainly evaluted from its usefulness as a meal ticket. Such a policy will yield rich financial dividends to India, no doubt, but some effort must be put to lay foundations of scientific temperament.<p>[This message has been edited by jairaj (edited 17-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 17 Oct 2000 23:43

Salman,<P>I will try the Inspec and Current Contents databases too. In the meantime, here is something to chew and digest..."The Scientific Wealth of Nations".<BR> <A HREF="http://plaza.snu.ac.kr/~foodeng/foodeng/board/msg/10.html" TARGET=_blank>http://plaza.snu.ac.kr/~foodeng/foodeng/board/msg/10.html</A> <P><BR>Country Share of Share of RCI GDP spent <BR>: papers(%) citations(%) (rank) on R&D(%) <BR>: -------------------------------------------------------------------<BR>: United States 34.6 49.0 1 2.5<BR>: United Kingdom 8.0 9.1 5 2.2 <BR>: Japan 7.3 5.7 18 2.9 <BR>: Germany 7.0 6.0 15 2.3<BR>: France 5.2 4.5 14 2.4<BR>: Canada 4.5 4.5 7 1.6<BR>: Italy 2.7 2.1 19 1.2<BR>: India 2.4 0.7 66 0.7<BR>: Australia 2.1 2.1 8 1.6<BR>: Netherlands 2.0 2.2 6 1.9<BR>: Sweden 1.7 2.1 3 3.3<BR>: Switzerland 1.4 1.9 2 2.7<BR>: P.R.China 0.9 0.3 65 0.5<BR>: Denmark 0.8 1.0 4 1.8<BR>: Finland 0.7 0.6 12 2.4

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 18 Oct 2000 03:18

I know what I was doing wrong. I have been using just the word China instead of PEOPLES-R-CHINA and Korea for SOUTH-KOREA, for the address word search. It is working fine now, though there still is a slight but reasonable deviation from the data that Salman has posted. I shall do the search for Chemistry and Biology. Can anyone name a few good journals in the latter field please? I know one which is Biochemistry.<P>

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Raj » 18 Oct 2000 05:21

<A HREF="http://web.mit.edu/facts/research.html" TARGET=_blank>http://web.mit.edu/facts/research.html</A> <BR>1999 Research budget is 257 million dollars (approx)<P>What is the the Indian Research budget?

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 18 Oct 2000 07:39

I did want to comment on the RCI (Relative Citation Impact) a.k.a the "impact factor" in research circle. India stands at a pitiful 66th position; so does PRC which is at 65. It is quite evident that 3 years back the scenario was not too different vis-a-vis Sino-Indian contribution to the scientific knowledge-base. I don't know how much the situation has changed 3 years down the road.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Sagar » 18 Oct 2000 08:59

Kamban's reply should go down as how not to think about the 'Problems of Indian science'.<BR>It is so superficial and oversimplistic with his added theories about software professionals that it is almost hilarious. I hope our national planners are not thinking along the same lines. Or are they?? Jay Dubashi??<P><BR>First of all the fundamental problem of doing science and earning more money in other careers. Here is the inside story (as I am in basic science).<P>This problem is being faced by even advanced economies like USA. Nearly one-third of the PhDs in the USA are foreign born. The reason is that there are not enough incentives for native born to pursue science except for the dedicated lot. Specially when smart graduates from MIT, Yale, Stanford, Harvard can make a killing in Wall Street, Silicon Valley, etc. Why work 12 hrs/day, 5-7days/wk for $20,000-30,000 when you are smart enough to make $100k elsewhere?<BR>There are serious discussions going on in academic circles in the USA as to how to attract smarter students to basic science and keep them there. Till they solve the problem they will use scientific 'coolies' like us from India and China. This given the vastness of the academic establishment in USA. This given the vastness of the resources available to the USA. By comparison India has a handful of academic institutes. Yet my department alone in Calcutta produces 60 graduates each year. The options available to them are to become MR, quit the field and go for a bank job, apply for WBCS, IAS, go to Bangalore or Hyderabad or Bombay to do research (5 seats maximum, that too in Bengal the teachers pride themselves in not giving marks - so we also loose out nationally) or become scientific 'coolies' in the West. Almost all the students in my class who chose do to research are in the USA. Maybe we ask dear Kamban and Jay Dubashi to stand at the airport with a gun in their hand so that they can point it at the head of all the computer and scientific 'coolies' leaving the country and solve the problem.<P><BR>Secondly, the age of CV Raman and APC Ray and Meghnad Saha is over. Modern research is high tech and needs billions of dollars which only a few can afford. Is there an alternative, a sort of grassroots science?? Maybe but we do not know as yet. The Indian economy cannot support R&D on such a vast scale where competition and first up the ladder are the norms. The economy has to expand before we can do serious R&D. Till then the best we can do is to do serious theoretical work, do space, defense, nuclear and agricultural research. Remember India has limited resources and they need to be concentrated in a few fields. <BR> <P>Thirdly, we have a systemic failure. As many have pointed out there is zero accountability in R&D. Organizations like DRDO, BARC, ISRO spent millions of dollars without proper accountability. We have tropical disease centres all over Calcutta which have not produced any drug worth the name. Professors have been found to use grant money to finance their houses or to buy cars. In Bihar, professors charge money or demand other favors to sign on thesis papers. Grants are obtained based on who you know and which political party you are affiliated to. Still Bangalore, Hyderabad, and Bombay are the best places to work in. In Calcutta, you have the 'lal jhanda' and in Delhi they are only good at stealing money.<P><BR>Fourth, we need clearly defined goals. The Govt. has meagre resources. What are our priorities? Do we need to participate in human genome project? Ok, we do because the DBT will receive international funds in dollars. Do we need to do AIDS research? Give me a break. We should concentrate on tropical diseases, colloborate with private industry on drug discovery and do lots of agricultural research using modern biotech tools. How come we still have one of the lowest per capita agricultural yields in the world.<P><BR>Fifth, it is the economy stupid. The Govt. does not have enough money to pay its own employees. I do not think they are about to build cyclotrons.<P>Sixth, the Indian elite should build more research institutes instead of stashing there money under the kitchen floor. Many big research centres in the USA, specially in health care, have been built with philanthropic money e.g. Rockefeller, Howard Hughes, Carnegie Mellon, etc.<P><BR>Seventh, improve basic education. With millions joining the scientific manpower there will be less griping Kamban-like and Dubashi-like. There will be too many to think whether they are blazing the trail of scientific glory or just becoming computer or scientific 'coolies'. Even the latter are important parts of the whole. No society will ever create just CV Raman's and Meghnad Saha's. You need people like us as well.<P><BR>Eighth, improve infrastructure. Believe it or not the internet has indeed helped basic scientists in India. Now they can communicate much more easily with the rest of the world to obtain reagents or scientific advice. What we need are a few world class institutes with world class funding and world class infrastructure. This is the European model. Actually we should follow a synthesis of the American and European models i.e. more philanthropic private money to built institutes and the Govt. money focussing mainly on basic education and a few top class research facilities. In this regard the GIST proposed by the NRIs (those bad, bad 'coolies') is a step in the right direction. These should be international institutes based in India providing world class facilities and with world class accountability, competitive grants and competitive positions and promotions.<p>[This message has been edited by Sagar (edited 17-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 18 Oct 2000 15:27

VRaghav,<BR> For Chemistry,<BR> 1. Journal of Chemical Physics.<BR> 2. Journal of Physical Chemistry A&B.<BR> The above two are for physical chemistry. I don't know about organic/inorganic chemistry etc.<BR> The most famous bio journals (some of these also have chem & other articles) where important discoveries are reported are.<BR> 1. Nature,<BR> 2. science.<BR> 3. Cell<BR> 4. Proceedings of the National academy of sciences (PNAS), u.s.<BR> The journals I have listed are not ranked, and I am fairly sure about the Physical Chemistry Journals. I'll also try and dig out the details of the Nature report on Indian Science if I can.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 19 Oct 2000 05:36

<B>J. Phys. Chem. B</B><P>Yr Ind Pk PRC Twn Kor Jap<BR>99 34 00 27 14 21 227<BR>98 43 00 28 17 18 211<BR>97 33 00 16 11 27 211<BR>96* 51 00 28 17 37 285<BR>95 39 00 28 24 30 287<BR>94 61 00 22 12 23 192<BR>93 29 00 20 07 18 203<P>* 1996 and before, the ACS (American Chemical Society) had three different types of JPCs: 1. J. Phys. Chem., 2. J. Phys. Chem., Solids and 3. J. Phys. Chem., Condensed Matter. In order to keep the numbers more or less constant in the table, I chose no. 1 i.e. J. Phys. Chem. for generating the data for 1996 and before.<P><B>J. Chem. Phys.</B><P>Yr Ind Pk PRC Twn Kor Jap<BR>99 60 0 50 50 52 255<BR>98 51 1 40 40 45 220<BR>97 44 1 35 32 44 197<BR>96 42 0 34 26 25 202<BR>95 31 0 18 18 16 158<BR>94 35 0 17 11 14 167 <BR>93 48 0 15 9 8 155<BR>-----------------------------------------<BR>Inc: 25% 23% 47% 47% 64.5%<P>Inc: is the percent increase in the number of papers (in J. Chem. Phys.) from 1993 to 1999 for India, PRC, Taiwan, Korea and Japan respectively.<BR><p>[This message has been edited by VRaghav (edited 18-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 19 Oct 2000 10:31

Hi, <BR> Here are some statistics that I have culled from various articles in the journal Nature, about Indian science.<BR>"India has fallen from the Eighth largest publishing nation in the world to the 12th largest with just a 2% share of the world's journal articles- a significant drop from 2.8% in 1989."<BR> "Nearly a quarter of the papers from India are in Chemistry, 18% in physics, and 13% in engineering. Biology accounted for 12%".<BR> "There has been a significant increase in the number of papers published by Indian Scientists in foreign journals as a whole, rising from 8751 in 1989 to 9958 in 1992. In contrast, there was a 27% decrease in the number of papers published in the 12 indian journals indexed by SCI."<BR> "India invested $1460 Million-0.83% of its GNP- in 1992-93, a figure that has been steadily declining from 0.93% in 1989-90."<BR> For those with access the reference is Nature-Vol 392 Pg.215, 1998.<P>A few conclusions that can be drawn are: <BR>1. The rate of publication in India is not keeping up with the rate of publication in other countries.<BR>2. Indian journals face a degradation in quality-a process that has been going on for a while now.<BR>3. Indian scientific spending is pretty low, even when viewed as a part of India's GNP. This is symptomatic of the poor attention given to education and funding for it as a whole.<P>The statistics showing a decline in research funding may be due to the economic crisis of the early nineties. I don't know whether this has improved. If anyone does, please put up the information.<P>While number of publications may be a bad parameter to judge quality of research output, it is a rough indicator (since one can make an argument that only a small percentage of the papers published are good ones--which means that a large number need to be published to have enough good papers.), it still tells us that research in India goes on on a small and mostly insignificant scale.<P> what surprised me the most about the statistics was the dearth of papers in engineering. This is an area where it makes sense to boost productivity and quality of work, because of the obvious financial and economic dividends.<BR> <BR> On a related note, there is an article about the relation between Indian scientific research establishments and MNC's and how they are gradually being soured, because of the feeling that Indian research institutes are becoming contract labour places for the scientific requirements of more developed nations and the consequent mismatch between Indian needs and the needs of these companies. I'll post a more detailed writeup about this soon.<BR> <BR> If anyone has statistics about the funding to Central universities, TIFR etc by the government, please do post it here. I know some numbers but they are old, so I do not know how relevant they are now.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby James Bund » 19 Oct 2000 19:58

Sagar <BR>Thank you for that reasoned and reasonable piece.I find the hysteria of scientific coolies in the west odious,most of them seem not to have got over their good fortune in securing a visa and take it as a recognition of their genius.Wake me up when you win the Nobel boys-till then you count your money and I'll count mine.<p>[This message has been edited by James Bund (edited 19-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby James Bund » 19 Oct 2000 20:16

As an example of wooly-headed thought take the example given above of Chinese publications being under-represented in the Weatern press.One merely has to propose that a Chinese worker in a given field is given a choice of publishing in an obscure Mandarin journal where even the most zealous cadre will not read it and an equally uninsipiring American journal.Which will he choose.China is not the USSR where sterling work was published in Russian.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Amitava » 20 Oct 2000 00:12

Thanks for the very pertinent thread, esp. to Salman, Faizi and VRaghav for the stats.<P>Please remove pk from the tables (it is totally irrelevant) and consider adding Germany, UK, Russia, Israel and France.<P>Also consider a different type of breakup for India, say IITs, IIMs, TIFR etc. Defence orgs, other Universities and Colleges combined, etc. Comparison with corporations like IBM, GM, GE, duPont etc. might be interesting.<P>How about expanding from Science into Engineering and looking, for example, at patents, just in India. Finding out who is applying for patents in India itself should be tell us something.<P>Is any such data available on the net ? Or you got to be associated with a research organization to search for such data ?

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby bala » 20 Oct 2000 00:23

The state of Indian Science has a peculiar trait often not seen in Western countries. There is no doubt that India produces brilliant minds, many of whom emigrate to other shores. In the Indian context, however, there is a dog-in-the-manger attitude in many institutes of higher learning and scientific establishments. Many top level managers at scientific institutes have poor moral ethics, are replete with jealously and often thwart the output of other brilliant scientists by petty means. Those who managed to get into the system by their "commit-to-memory" approach of learning often stay put at these venerable institutes. Many are mean spirited and ridicule young scientists and discourage them by nuisance administrative taunts. There is the other scourge of casteism that plays a destructive role in the Indian context. Such is life in the Indian scientific context.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 20 Oct 2000 11:31

GD,<BR> TIFR is at most nominally funded by the Tatas. It is a central government run research institute and receives about 60-70 Crores in funding every year. These funds are mostly from the DAE and are very liberal given its size. (IITS get about 20 Cr. apiece when I last knew. They are really strapped for cash.). TIFR has been quite successful as an institution. In the 60's and 70's it was a genuinely very good place for Math and some aspects of physics..sadly, it has also declined somewhat, though there are some areas in which it is still quite good. As far as TIFR is concerned, it commisoned a review of its performance a couple of years ago. The review committee consisted of David Mumford (A Field's medalist in Maths), Lord Porter (a chemist) and a third Indian whose name I do not recall. They came to the conclusion that TIFR is funded on par with some of the better research places in europe and/or the u.s. I forget the details of this report (and there might be some errors, because I came to hear a lot of this over a summer spent at TIFR.). However, they also made recommendations regarding the structure of the place which did not go down very well with many of the faculty. TIFR is about the most competitive of indian research places that I know of. They have some sort of a tenuring system in place and all that, and try their best to get good people which is one of the reasons why it is still a fairly good place.<BR> As for the IITs, the less said the better as far as their research goes. I am from one and I personally got a very poor impression of the research environment..I am fairly sure Salman and others who are in the research business will concur with me that the IITs are good teaching institutes and third rate research places (they get great students and put them through quite a bit of pressure, which is why IITs have good alumni.). The truth is that, if one looks at the papers published, especially in science and if one looks at the good ones, one will find a surprising number of them coming from relatively lesser known places in India. Universities like Jadavpur and JNU are probably better in terms of research done than most IIT's. There used to be a time (about 15-20 years ago) when IIT Kanpur had a very good collection of people, most of them migrated out to places like IISc (an example is C.N.R Rao, who did very good work there), the impression I got was that regional factors played a role in this. <BR> The influence of regional factors does seem to play a role. I do not have statistics, but places like Presidency College in Calcutta, produce a large number of fairly committed science graduates. Again, I am trying to illustrate one of the big mistakes of government policy in the past. At independence, there were a fair number of universities with a tradition of scientific research and teaching. By setting up places like the IITs and a host of other research institutes and neglecting these universities, the government effectively prevented the spread of a truly broad based educational and scientific culture. In addition to this, an unfortunate hangover of the freedom movement was the high level of political activism in the more prestigious universities in India (BHU,AMU come to mind). Political parties as a whole have exploited this and destroyed the sanctity of these places by playing dirty and sometimes violent politics on university campuses. <BR> The tragedy of Indian education is that there is not a single place in the country where one can get a high quality, broad based education. It is almost as if the Indian educational system throws up a bunch of skilled "idiot savants" who are probably extremely good at doing their specific tasks, but whose innovative capacities have at the very least not been developed. This is certainly going to be reflected in the indian scientific culture.<BR> As for specific statistics of the kind that<BR>Amitava asked for, I don't know, but I'll try and find some.<p>[This message has been edited by Faizi (edited 20-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 20 Oct 2000 12:52

Hi Shiwaji,<BR> I was not referring to the computational math institute, but rather to the recommendation to spin off the bio sciences at TIFR into a separate entity altogether. This has happened partially, with the formation of NCBS at Bangalore under Prof. Obaid Siddiqui, though many TIFR faculty refused to go there. I am sorry I forgot about the ISI's. They have some of the best mathematicians in India, along with TIFR.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 20 Oct 2000 12:56

However, I don't know about the funding they (ISI's) receive..if you have any idea, please post it. Thanks.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby James Bund » 20 Oct 2000 19:22

Thank you for your ever civil response Salman-I was not refering to your post wrt hysteria.<P>1 Only the myopically patriotic would deny the systemic rot in Indian institutions including science.I just want to see some analysis rather than reiteration of the obvious.And again I do not think our analysis has gone far enough-it is still on the phenomenological level.What is the root of the matter-fatalistic culture?Hinduism?Islamic conquest?Nehruvian socialism?.<BR>More likely money,pure and very simple.<P>2 the days of Raman's $500 experiments are over-even the biological sciences are getting prohibitive for the developing countries.The last quickie Nobel in the field-the polymerase chain reaction cost perhaps $5000 per se.But this cost accounting does not factor in the infrastructure-physical and intellectual,that costs significantly more.<P>3 Comparision with China-a fascinating and for some I suspect an ideological point.<P>Journal: Physical Review Letters (arguably the #1 journal in physics)<P>yr ind pk chn twn kor jpn cit mit <P>98 67 00 53 39 49 281 42 84 <BR>97 52 00 30 29 33 228 41 74 <BR>96 51 01* 34 31 32 190 37 66 <BR>95 46 00 16 26 29 207 46 93 <BR>94 36 00 19 17 18 161 27 63 <BR>93 33 00 23 05 16 160 34 71<P> This table seems to suggest that India in fact is doing surprisingly well.<P>You will agree with me that the scientific enterprise is contextual.IMHO the major determinant is national income that permits this luxury-much as 18th century science was largely done by the men of means or the men of leisure( the clergy Image ).If we use foreign exchange as a marker for this financial ease (for illustrative purposes),this year China will display ~$5 billion per publication in PRL whereas India will show $1/2 billion per publication.I acknowledge that this value of forex per publication is contrived and arbitrary but I believe it has a germ of truth,much as citation data.I am aware of Chinese work in magnets and clinical trials.But how much input from America-the 1000s of physics PhDs have not all been absorbed in the US.Presumably collaboration continues with US based researchers who provide the hard cash-in other words we need much more info on authorship of research coming out of China. I know the clinical trials have a significant American input into design.<BR> I would be very much interested in pointers to what more is being done in China.I realize you are very busy.

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 20 Oct 2000 23:16

I am really enjoying the informative posts on this thread. Thanks Amitava; I will be doing the SCI search for the Biology field soon - sorry have been tied up with work.<P>Salman,<P>though I take your word, do you have some numbers pointing to the latest RCI ranking of nations? I will also post in case I find some information regarding the same.<P>Sagar,<P>thanks for the well reasoned post. You echo many of my sentiments.<P> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Believe it or not the internet has indeed helped basic scientists in India. Now they can communicate much more easily with the rest of the world to obtain reagents or scientific advice.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Not only that, but a whole host of journals are available online for free, usually in PDF format. Most of them carry the latest articles which is a must for anyone in the research field to keep oneself updated and to get new ideas. Journals like Electrochimica Acta can be obtained from the web-site <A HREF="http://www.sciencedirect.com." TARGET=_blank>www.sciencedirect.com.</A> So are some of the journals in Physics like J. Appl. Phys. and J. Chem. Phys., which can be found at <A HREF="http://ojps.aip.org/jhtml/announcements/backfile.html." TARGET=_blank>http://ojps.aip.org/jhtml/announcements/backfile.html</A> <p>[This message has been edited by VRaghav (edited 20-10-2000).]

James Bund
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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby James Bund » 20 Oct 2000 23:42

For the nonscientists interested.<P>The productivity of an American scientist is perhaps 4 times the Indian i.e.he puts out an LPU (least publishable unit Image ) 4 times as frequently.The single most important factor in citation is self-citation (other than of course epochal papers or methodologies).Thus the American after 8 papers has inflated his citation rate several fold (potentially 49-fold) already.Throw in the wider circle of colleagues in America and reiterate the above process for cross-citation and you will see that citation data are not INTRINSICALLY necessarily valid for determining worth.<P>Of course this is not to detract from the merits of American scientific endeavour-that would be foolish.<p>[This message has been edited by James Bund (edited 20-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby VRaghav » 21 Oct 2000 00:06

I agree broadly with James. A certain coterie of scientists, if I may, operates on a certain sub-field and they cross-cite each other. These people are the leaders, if not pioneers in their field of research i.e. a whole bunch of ground-breaking work was done by them in the earlier days, which obviously set(s) a platform for later aspirants in the same or similar field. The same scientists down the years keep working on new projects, which more often than not are related to their old work in some way or the other. Self-citation thus becomes inevitable. <P>The flip-side of all this is what probably James is alluding to and that is the publications coming out of the coterie of scientists, is often taken as the whole truth. For example, many papers will talk about nanoparticle deposition on various substrates but none will display even one SEM picture as proof, which kind of makes one skeptical about their work. Also, one scientist had reported a phenomenon which I had to repeat to confirm the quality of my substrate; but I could never reproduce the results published. After several months, I came to know (from a member of the coterie, who had come for a presentation to my school) that the phenomenon is indeed not observable and that the scientist had published a retraction somewhere.<P>

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby jairaj » 21 Oct 2000 09:18

Many top level managers at scientific institutes have poor moral ethics, are replete with jealously and often thwart the output of other brilliant scientists by petty means <P>I know quite a few 'scientists' in NAL, CSIR (this because I worked there as trainee quite a while ago) who have taken big projects for LCA and produced almost nothing. But then again, the scientist is not allowed to keep even a fraction from the project money, although he campaigned and obtained the project by himself - all is taken by CSIR! A babu controls the project expenses. (I am not aware if this system has been changed there, but it is not likely.) Then what is the incentive for succesfully doing a project?

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 21 Oct 2000 16:36

While there is a good deal of the sort of cross citation that James and Vraghav talk about, it is still true that scientists in the U.S come up with a large amount of very original work. <BR> James,<BR> I'm curious how you came up with the figure that you mentioned. <BR>

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby James Bund » 21 Oct 2000 21:11

Assume all 8 papers are "in press",generating 7 citations for each gives 56 (my error).

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Faizi » 27 Oct 2000 13:25

Samudragupta,<BR> I could'nt agree with you more. I also do believe that it is neccesary for the top science places in India to run undergraduate programs. However, I am fairly sure that there is opposition to this within the institutes themselves. For example, IISc used to run undergrad. engineering programs which it wound up and stopped in the early 80's. It has furthermore cut down on the integrated M.Tech programs for B.Sc students who want to branch off into engineering. This is an unfortunate trend and I only hope someone with sense gets into a position to alter this.<P> I have some funding statistics for major research places in India. This is from the government websites.<P>1. TIFR --Rs.85.95 Crore.<BR>2. Tata Memorial Centre-Rs. 68.50 Cr.<BR>3. Saha Institute for Nuclear Physics--28 Cr.<BR>4. Institute for Plasma Research--Rs.30.80 Cr.<BR>5. Institute for Mathematical sciences -Rs.5.55 cr.<BR>6. Institute for Physics--6.4cr.<BR>7. Mehta Research Inst.--5.43 cr.<BR> These are all funded by the DAE and for their size, are pretty well off.<BR>(Tata memorial centre is primarily devoted to cancer research and is in Parel (?) Mumbai, at the Tata Memorial Hospital.).<P> As far as organizations not funded by the DAE are concerned, I still have to dig. And post this for later.<P>PS: Take a look at the DAE site and the Ministry of education site from <BR> <A HREF="http://goidirectory.nic.in" TARGET=_blank>http://goidirectory.nic.in</A> <BR> there is a lot of interesting info. about education and scientific funding and research.<P> <p>[This message has been edited by Faizi (edited 27-10-2000).]

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Re: The State of Indian Science

Postby Imtiaz Ahmed » 27 Oct 2000 15:00

Excellant thread. Good job. Hope it is archived.<P>


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