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Research Career: A tale of bankrupt intellectuality

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Ranjeet Kumar:

Research today has become more paper driven than passion driven. There is a growing community which chooses a research problem that can be solved and is easy. This can be very well understood by scenarios where nothing new is coming out except burgeoning piles of literature. Therefore the students involved in such projects work mechanically and the innovation dries out and what remains is a lot of exceptionally talented candidates turning into scientific coolies. Inculcating an atmosphere where mistakes are rewarded and everyone is encouraged to carry out mistakes, those thinking out of the box and innovatively should be allowed to put forth their original views. The psyche of a researcher has a tendency of escaping and what suffers at large is nation’s science. The solution to this lies in no more reviews but original views which should be loudly propagated. My notion lies in defining our own problems of malnutrition, sanitation, safe drinking water and diseases pertaining to the above which definitely would add value to the life of people at large.

There has been further increase in the number of fellowships by different awarding bodies and everyone who does post graduation in science aspires for it. Again the question remains does this entrance really has anything to do with the quality of research? Given an option how many of the lot selected will still like to pursue a research career? The hunt for research scholars seems to be driven by these fellowships rather than by their passion to pursue science. A different sort of selection and screening should be devised that would allow students to come up with original research ideas after the fellowships have been awarded. A selection committee should then look on the techno-economic feasibility and then these students should be allotted respective guides or should be allowed to discharge role in academics based on their passion and motivation. It should be mandatory that the problems taken up should be pertaining to Indian scenario and not borrowed from western countries. Those having fire in the belly should be encouraged and fellowship should not be a constraint for them.

Statistics were misleading and the actual ground reality looked alarming in the assay ‘Biotechnology sector in India: strengths, limitations, remedies and outlook’ in July 2009 issue of current science.

S. Natesh gave a vivid account of the face of contemporary biotech in India. It seems that the scenario is overwhelming and we are on the right track, but had there been any effort by organizations to find the fate of number of post graduates that come out every year, a definitive pool of the talented force should be tracked and conducive career path should be designed to assimilate these talents. There is an urgent need to manage these human resources by introducing bridge courses and providing them opportunities to thrive well. Courses that train people on various aspects of patient health care and novel agricultural skills to whatever it takes to bring research from bench to bed and from lab to field comes under the umbrella of bridge courses. Instead of a single available option of doctoral studies there should be copious opportunity at the disposal of scholar’s pursuing science. He put forth the view that there is ‘lack of quality human resource of right kind’ which impedes growth. My opinion again is when are we going to stop complaining and start acting if people and policy makers themselves keep on complaining who will be the flag bearer of creating conducive atmosphere where this problem is efficiently answered.?

The applicability of science to the society should be prioritized. In one of his editorial article in current science P. Balaram quotes from Donald E. Stokes, Pasteur’s Quadrant – Basic Science and Technological Innovation which emphasizes on a class of scientific research methods that both seek fundamental understanding of scientific problems, and, at the same time, seek to be eventually beneficial to society and has been placed top right and christened Pasteur quadrant. So it’s high time to think that India cannot afford to carry only basic science and its upto us to herald a new era “where use inspired basic research” receives focus of the intellectual lot. Its right time to amalgamate knowledge to action as Louis Pasteur rightly said “There is not pure science and applied science but only science and application of science.”

Creating new institutions like IISER, IIT’S, NIPER and AIIMS has been a government effort to publicize but never there is an initiative to look up on the problems of the institutions which are already facing resource crisis and proper manpower and as such motivation is low. The seeds of research acumen should be nurtured in the university regime so that the one who really has the erudite comes in to the realm of research; it demands a change in the system where promotions of the faculty should be linked to research initiatives they undertake. To improve the situation its up on the policy makers to come out of the traditional mindset and in line with establishing new research institutions , the universities should be given upper hand in research so that the student get a glimpse of first hand research.

Today when we think of ‘translational research’ and ‘sustainable development’ I feel really sorry as these terminology may be jargon but isn’t it possible to put the idea in the psyche of the community that for a difference, to be different, it must make difference and that’s what pursuing a career in science is all about.


1. S. Natesh* and M. K. Bhan- Biotechnology sector in India: strengths, limitations, remedies and outlook, CURRENT 160 SCIENCE, VOL. 97, NO. 2, 25 JULY 2009

2. Donald E. Stokes, Pasteur’s Quadrant – Basic Science and Technological Innovation, Brookings Institution Press, 1997

The writer is a research scholar by profession working at CDRI Lucknow, a freelancer and poet by passion.

You must be to comment.
  1. Prem

    Dear Ranjit

    Your article is good, and it would create many question in the mind of the reader.

    keep it up.

    Every activity should have a purpose. Lets us fisrt define the purpose of our scientific endeavor in all our areas.

    All that we are lacking is a real purpose.

    Are we searching for real solution for the real problem?

    If are doing a very diffocult task does it mean that we are doing something meaningfull, like some one may start counting pasryicle of sand on the sea beach, as very difficult task, but doest it makes any sense?

  2. Shreekant

    well written and understands the level & path of the research going on in the nation. Perhaps here students are not at all a culprit or they have to come in with their own ideas. It is the research system who has to correct the projects which can easily apply to layman system. Whatever he has explained here is definitely true for those who have experienced this condition, but a new student cannot think in this way. Whatever it’s ultimate thinking and research system has to adopt this methodology!

  3. Sudhir Kumar

    Your opinion is quiet right. University system should be promoted for research. But in India policy makers are those persons that have no idea of science or human resource development at all.

  4. DEV

    Author has really put the current truth abt scientific research in appropriate words.

    As a reader we also want to know much on how these problems can be solved.

  5. Ramakrishna

    Dear Ranjeet,

    Your views matches quite well with my views. Science in India should b overhauled soon.Science should be inculcated and propagated well in Universities. Opening a few institutes doesnt mean they are going to help science or breed scientists, they are just incubators for new coolies. When India has good university system, govt should help these universities to promote basic science. Every promotion and selection are linked on pulications. Institutes shouldnt be factories for articles. Actually i feel students are dragged into research biological sciences due to false idea of Biotech industry.

  6. Awadhesh Kumar Arya

    Dear Sir, You have pointed out very nicely the problems of research scholars in India. In India scientists wanted to get maximum out put in very less time from a scholar which are not directly related to their synopsis, this makes the life of research scholar rest less and frustating.

  7. Reeta Singhania

    This is really true which most of us would be knowing since we join research or may be even before but the question is who would be willing to stake their future. As we all know, we need to publish papers to submit PhD, and publications also reflect the science being done in the country. It is an individuals perception how they look forward on this issue. But one should not always blame the system or government. This is the most common way people choose to run away from their responsibilities. All the problems can be solved with a right attitude and this is also true that whatever money being spent on research; may be only 2% will come up with colourful output. We youngsters after going abroad for postdocs do so well but how many of us think of coming back if we are offered there. I am not talking about those who come back just because of not getting anything there. How many of us try to make a difference? We all would be able to do independent reasearch one day but the question is, do we really think that which problem of our country need to be attended first and do have expertise on that particualr issue????

  8. Jayanti Mishra

    Hello!! Sir,
    You have outshown the problem which we are facing as technocrats in our field i.e Biotechnology.Today,scenario is that more and colleges are AICTE approved but nobody cares about what kind of technical education students are getting out there.Can we hope for bright future of this kind of education system?? This marks a big question mark…..????

    good thoughts!!!


    its worth of writing …good view

  10. Arun K Rawat

    Hi Sir
    Thish is nice overview regarding the research going on all around and really pointing towards the need for real research atmosphere.Also i will appeaciate the selection criteria requirement or recearch scholeres that you have said , becaus if we select the good candidate then certainly the will do well but in our system every thing i opposite.

  11. ranjeet

    thank you friends my sole purpose was sensetization on the issue.

  12. Radha Rani

    Dear Ranjeet
    I agree with you. The article focusses on the problems which Indian research fraternity is facing. I myself will admit that I slected a topic which was comparatively easy and where there were fair possibilities of getting results (still my problem is enough difficult as compared to general research topics in my area of specialization) n I suggest the same to juniors. Infact we all do the same, to more or less extent. But its not our fault. The system is forcefully converting hardworking n assidous research minds to clerks (may times we do such work to please our guides), paper writing machines (because publishing papers is more important than the quality
    research), manipulators (cos u have to get best results everytime, there is no logical approach for the unexpected observations). I strongly feel there is great need to revise the system.
    And as far as paper writing is concerned, rat race for publications is simply ruining original research. Even we understand that we have to publish to stand in competetion, so not much attention is given to hard core research. And one more thing I would like to mention, a paper doesnt not necessarily highlight the authors contribution to science. We all knw that many papers are accepted if any of the authors have good relations with anyone in the editorial board. And if at all the impact factor of jounal is good, what is the statistics that your article has contributed to it (the impact factor of the journal) significantly?
    a lot more to say..
    but at the end I would appeciate my frnd Reeta’s thouht that instead of blaming the system we have to change it. And work out our own domestic issues instead of following anyone else blindly.

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