‘Magnates such as Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata should loosen their purse strings’

Science in India gets no contribution from the industry, C.N.R. Rao, head of the scientific advisory council to the Prime Minister, has said. “Industry magnates such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata should loosen their purse strings,” he said here on Saturday.

They after all “reap the fruits of science,” Prof. Rao said during a question-and-answer session organised by Bangalore Press Club.

Over 50 per cent of research funding in the United States, Japan and South Korea, comes from industry, he said. Prof. Rao reiterated that the government investment in science should be increased from 0.9 per cent to 2 per cent of the gross domestic product.

“Only countries that have advanced in science actually have made significant progress,” Prof. Rao said, adding that India was “lagging behind in innovation.”

He said the quality of science in India wasn’t good, and it was reflected in the fact that “of the top 1 per cent of global research, India’s contribution is less than 1 per cent… the USA’s contribution is 63 per cent.” However, Prof. Rao pointed out that India fared rather well in terms of salaries for scientists.

“India is number 3 in the world for salaries to scientists.”

While he said around 150 PhD students work under him, in the last 15 years, “none of them are from Bangalore”. “Most of my students [at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research] are from West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.”

Young people appear to choose banking, business and Information Technology over science, he said, adding that while he was “not against IT”, he believed that “other sectors should not be denied bright talent.” While everyone still knows Bangalore as ‘IT city’… they should begin seeing it ‘science city’.Karnataka however has invested substantially in science, he said, adding that setting up the Vision Group on Science and Technology was an important step to encourage the discipline.

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