The President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, at the start of the week put the question to students across the country as to whether it was a lack of a conducive atmosphere in Indian academia which has been pushing the country’s best talent away from critical research or even towards foreign country. He made this statement while he was talking of the importance of research in a country like India, and urged students to take up more serious research at institutions of higher learning across the country.
The Presidents Opinion
The President felt that it is extremely important, especially when according to him Knowledge would be seen as the order of the current age, that students foster a strong spirit of inquiry. He talked about the excellent facilities which are provided by colleges, universities and institutes all over India who have very high numbers and percentages when it comes to placement, many of which even come up to a hundred percent placed. Many more of the student from these universities also venture forth abroad to some of the world’s highest level institutions, he admitted that this made him content.
However, considering that since C V Raman won the Nobel prize 80 years ago, and did with research done right here in India at that, there appears to be no great effort by Indian students to match that passion, vigour and dedication towards the field of research. No Indian scholar has been given this honour since Raman in 1930 and it appears that no Indian scholar working in the country is close to it either. It is then that he decided to address the question as to whether the atmosphere for research in India is not conducive to the work.
This entire talk was a part of the address given by the President to a very select group gathered in the Famed Yellow Drawing Room of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, to mark the end of Ramjas College’s centenary celebrations. To this effect the President also had released a stamp commigrating the event as well as a special text on the history of the iconic college set up in 1917.
As he dove deeper into this issue he spoke about how the skills of graduates from great institutions like IIT were being wasted in jobs like marketing and sales, where they could and should rather be working on issues of energy, climate, health and safety through critical research. If these same students had instead taken a path of research the country as a whole would have undoubtedly benefitted greatly, Mukherjee had gone on to say.
He acknowledged that India is not a country lacking in talent in any form, however perhaps the country is not able to provide the right people with the right motivation and incentive in terms of a rally supportive and conducive ecosystem built around the world of research in India. He said that to retain the smartest and brightest India has to offer the country should work on mending this falling and work to build an atmosphere which fosters the creativity of faculty and students in pursuing their preferred areas of research instead of moving over to the corporate world.