Edhidden figures of indian

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- science/article21859963.ece Many of the greatest scientists that independent India has produced are little known, like hidden figures in their own homeland. Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri in cosmology, G.N. Ramachandran in protein crystal structures, and C.K. Majumdar and Dipan Ghosh who extended the quantum Heisenberg spin model. These are household names in the international scientific field, but are little promoted by the Indian scientific establishment, even neglected in graduate teaching. This oversight reflects a serious problem for the sciences in India. India has numerous well-funded institutions designed to produce high-quality scientific research, but the resulting research is mostly mediocre. What is worse is that many Indian scientists agree that the relatively small amount of world-class research they produce emerges despite the national scientific establishment, and not because of it. The system is run by scientists-turned-bureaucrats, who have absorbed the culture of government. Independent India’s project of building a national science establishment led to internal standards of judgment: the scientists in power certify each other’s work. Dependent
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48 | Page 9004418746 [email protected] on political patronage for continued funding, these leaders groom loyalists and yes-men rather than cutting-edge researchers (and women are scarce). In a culture where people tend to get perceived as “smart” or not, labels can stick for life: hard work yields no rewards unless one is already defined as smart. This has led to an insider culture, reproducing privileges rather than promoting excellence. It is the little-recognised lone rangers who usually produce the best work in such a system, and not the research groups that get the major share of resources. Experimental science “is very poor in India ”. To succeed, experiments require at least two conditions: guarantees of long-term funding and scientists’ collaboration with each other. Funding varies with the political climate: there will be money to buy equipment but no certainty that resources will flow for all the years needed to ensure significant results. And collaboration is a social process, not an intellectual one. It involves, among other things, physical labour together with others. Far from creating a positive influence on society, Indian scientific institutions reflect the existing social make-up and even reinforce it. Bureaucrats no longer active in cutting- edge research regard themselves as capable of judging working scientists, dispensing with principles of peer review. And instead of creating a scientific esprit de corps and contributing to social debates, Indian scientists tend to shun public commentary, unless it is to serve as government spokespersons.
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