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The Sad State of Research in India

Fig: Biomedical research lab 


India is the God’s own land. And this land has prided to build the most elevated minds of the highest thinking in human history. As the land is fertile so is the mind of the people living here. And there is an immense natural biodiversity and so are the people diverse and unique in their ways. Having a culture that goes back to the initiation of the civilization, what we have prided in ourselves is our rich heritage, our rich culture.
The greatest gift to science that anyone could give was the present number system by presenting Zero before the world. Hadn’t it been for the Zero, we would still be counting in our caves. The wheel of science and progress, if I can say with assurance and confidence ever depended on anything and has made giant strides, is due to this number system, and it was none other than we Indians who gave the world this great gift.
But then our culture has been corrupted with malpractices which got accumulated in the society as the powerful civilization fell. So, while the world took off, we got stuck with age old vices and corrupt practices that was not only scientifically unsound but was also morally and ethically wrong.
The present day, only those who don’t like anything are motivated to think about the natural world, the truth and seek the truth in a scientific essence. Hardly a few percent of parents will instill into their children the desire to seek the higher truth, the desire to win a Nobel Prize. What do parents want their children to be? That they themselves have failed, and want to live their dreams in their children. Just be a doctor or an engineer or a government service officer (like an IAS/IPS), get a job in some multinational company. Then they can brag about that to their neighbours. 


Fig. 1 Nature magazine report in 2015 (only 4 per 10,000 labour force in India)


There are hundreds of IAS/IPS officers manufactured in the country every year, thousands of doctors manufactured every year, and tens of thousands of engineers manufactured every year. How many of them ever in the long history of our existence since independence has made a mark throughout the world as a Science genius? If you don’t become a doctor, an engineer, or an officer, someone else definitely will- because it is a relative exam, involving competition.
 But then, if you have the capability to be a Ramanujan, or Tagore, or Raman, or Bose or a Kalam and instead don’t become one, then nobody can replace you. 
Why do we seek the relative and ignore the absolute? These are the path to absolute fame, and you will be remembered as long as science, literature and civilization exists. No one gives a damn, who topped the UPSC exam a few years ago, or who topped in the IIT exam say in 2001, or who topped in the AIPMT exam in 2005. Honestly, no one cares, because every year we have a new guy who tops the list, then he/she remains a talk of the town/country for some days and is forgotten. But those who leave a mark on the society, and are written down in text books will be remembered. They won’t be forgotten, because no one can replace them. They will live in our hearts and minds, and be a source of inspiration for everyone.
It is not the fault of children going to good schools like the DPS, DAV, Kendriya Vidyalaya, Navodaya, etc. to think only of getting a good job or getting into one of the best colleges in India, and after that again getting a good job and making life secure. As a student I never heard anyone wanted to pursue a career in research. Research was meant, that someone did something in the US or UK or somewhere in the Western world. All the names that we learnt in the science books, like reactions, formulae, were Western names (Jack, John, Hahnemann, etc.) and we were quite surprised some Asian names came up by chance. Maybe, it could be a mistake, and learning Asian names were difficult.
Did that mean, that only people from the Western World could pursue research? Or to pursue research, we should go to the West? There have been great giant names like Har Gobind Khorana, who emigrated to the US to do research and won the Nobel Prize. Would he be a Nobel Laureate had he remained in India?  What about the people of this country? Are we really mad, those who want to pursue research and make it their career? Aren’t there any of us who has a dream of winning the Nobel Prize, and making the whole country proud? There has been sadly, a poor history about Indians winning the Nobel Prize (only a handful of them), but then, isn’t it the time to go into the deeper waters hoping for a change? However some of the Indians like Gandhi, S. N. Bose, and G. N. Ramachandran were strong contenders of the Nobel Prize. A background history of Ramachandran proposing the DNA structure surprised me – the poor fellow had sent his DNA model to one of the most reputed journals, and they had kept his papers for review for two years until Watson and Crick got the model. It wasn’t science bias, but rather the scientist/reviewer’s bias. Those were the good old days of communication through the post. And J. C. Bose missed the patent for radio. There is some amount of luck also to labour.
In the present society if people talk of doing something new in science, they are looked as mad men. If you say, you are working on a new invention or theory, you will be ousted from the group like an insane. You can’t express your thoughts (it is peer pressure- like living among fools).  Why? Because we have been bred like that. We have been bred to copy and follow, don’t question, just simply do as others did – adhere to the old protocol. Don’t think fresh, anew or different!
I have had the privilege of studying in some of the best schools, colleges and University of this great country. But nowhere did I find anyone who had the passion for research, for seeking the truth for the sake of science. It was how their parents brought them up. They were shown a dream, to get a job and get married, like Sharmaji’s or Guptaji’s son did. And life would be well settled and happy. If anyone wanted to do research, they were told to have a back-up, like some secure job. Research was secondary. If your boats aren’t burnt how will you fight for survival? You would think of escaping, and such thoughts would lead to a decisive defeat. Humans like animals too can be conditioned to feel happiness or express a particular reaction to a particular event.
Anything beyond an IIT or Medical is useless, purposeless and beyond comprehension. Or if the wards failed in these, they could then try for the civil services. That is what to say, the maximum dream. And so these students (kids) had that dream only in their childhood. When they grew up and fulfilled their dream, by getting into one of those prestigious colleges, their life was devoid of further aim. The capability and capacity to struggle further was lost. You can’t as much instill passion for something in a ripe mind, than when it is raw. So now these young minds have achieved their goal, why would they risk doing something out of their comfort zone? It is the parents and the society altogether at fault, that we have good doctors, good engineers, good technicians, but hardly any Nobel Laureates. After all how many Nobel Laureates are there in India who have lived in India and have done substantial work (research) in India? What we sow, so will we reap. If you can’t tell stories about Newton, Tesla, Aryabhatta, Edison, Einstein, etc. to your children when they are kids, you can never expect them to contribute anything to science. And you think getting a good job is bravery for persevering to study so much. Why not persevere a little more to become a scientist or mathematician or a writer, who can contribute to the society’s progress a little more. Have you ever thought of immortality? Who doesn’t want to live forever? The mere thought of non-existence will make the strongest wince.

Fig 2. Nature magazine report 2015, Government funding on research $ 171k/researcher in India


The greatest assets of the University is not its infrastructure but its students. Yes, the students are the greatest assets. And if you compare yourself and think low with the people of other Universities around the world, then no one can save you or the nation. The biggest asset (resource) you have is your brain – your mental strength. You have become a champion among a billion individuals, so you can do far better than anyone. There are problems everywhere. Instead of complaining that there is lack of infrastructure resources and funding, you should take a chance to solve the problems. A great man, unfortunately not an Indian said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” And someday if the mind-set of the society changes, the mind of the government will also change.

How do people become a Super Hero? 

Not because of a costume, but a person becomes a super hero only when there is a Super Villain. If there is no Super villain, the existence of a Super hero is meaningless.
So if there are greater problems, if we face it and strive forward, our sacrifices won’t go in vain, and we will come out stronger. And we will achieve far greater success, than we could have, had there been no problems. The problems are there, facing them will make you stronger, more influential, and build something that has far greater impact on humanity than anyone who hasn’t faced problems. There is your immortality, there is your salvation!
The best minds go to the M.B.B.S. and IITS, on the basis of competitive entrance examinations. The lower minds (of lower IQ) tend to go to the other stream of science and arts. And unfortunately, through the brain drain – the best minds emigrate, thus making our country mental resource poor. While those of lower IQ who stay, study age old philosophy and comprehend our ancestors knew more, and work to prove them right. They research on crude extract. The use of extract was done in the time of Paracelsus; while the world has moved on to individual active compounds, we have stuck to the wide variety of ingredients composition. Like is cow’s urine really beneficial? Did you ever try with human urine, horse urine, goat urine, etc.? It is written somewhere and you blindly accept the facts and try desperately to prove it, making use of rogue scientific principles - if the facts and figures do not fit to explain the theory, change the facts and figures. It could have as much effect as a placebo – the placebo effect. Anyone making such claims that cancer can be cured by such practices are more or less corrupting the medical practice, as advertisement is not allowed in the medical profession.
We the people form the government. If we don’t change our mind-set (the society as a whole), the government will do as the social thinking prevails, and the blessed minds will be drained off to those countries where science, innovation and invention is respected, where scientific calibre is acknowledged. It is that we as a society should come out seeking truth, validating our practices. It is not that we try to prove all our practices through science, just for the sake of our beliefs. We have knowledge and we know what is right or wrong. Like the predictions of the seers like Nostradamus and Baba Vanga in the past which are vague and left to open interpretation. The event will happen and then we try to fit the prediction, because they said it- also called the halo effect. Well, then anyone could say it. And many will try to fit the predictions according to their occurrence. That is not accepted in the scientific community, the science world. If two plus two is equal to four, then it should be four, everywhere and every time. If it isn’t, then the theory is rejected. Science has advanced while the other forms of knowledge have undergone a regression because of their invalidity and inaccuracy in different situations or conditions.
And what happens when a weak kingdom is attacked? It tries to make a truce or seek a stronger ally. Now all the religion, practices, etc. to keep themselves in existence and save from extinction are explaining themselves through science. Yes a science, for which a man was jailed for believing the earth goes round the sun, and hadn’t he changed his statement to the sun moving around the earth, he would have been hanged!

And if we Indians do not learn something from this, I am sorry no one can help us out.




The Sad State of Research in India Reviewed by Polymath on 6:07 pm Rating: 5

11 comments:

  1. Wow..
    This is the real reflection of the real !

    And about research in India,
    As this is developing, the fight for survival comes first. They were legends.. Not everyone is lotus..
    When a kid from average/poor family tops, the first thought parents get is.. " he will be able to lead a comfortable life unlike us"
    So, they start feeding him with the thoughts of getting a high paying, secured job..

    And those born with golden spoon, and are interested in discovering/inventing, go abroad..
    May be because... Even we have every resource for research, the IDEA that is required, is generated from interaction.
    And I'm sure we will be developed someday...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, dear anonymous writer. We all need to interact to make this nation a developed one...The one who wants to keep their chair can do so, but this nation rests on the shoulders of those who believe in the country before themselves.

      Delete
  2. As the time passes, the researcher looses the relevance of assumptions made at the start hence imperfectness slowly pervades.here

    ReplyDelete
  3. You are correct, Miss Rifat. The enthusiasm is lost afterwards.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Very useful info. Hope to see more posts soon!. MP Patwari Bharti 2019

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, sir. Hope to contribute more to the nation.

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