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Updated: January 25, 2013 02:44 IST

Sudarshan against Plan panel proposal

T. Nandakumar
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E.C.G. Sudarshan says stints for top Indian scientists working abroad may not yield much benefit.
E.C.G. Sudarshan says stints for top Indian scientists working abroad may not yield much benefit.

The Planning Commission proposal to offer lucrative stints for top Indian scientists working abroad may not yield the expected benefits, feels eminent physicist E.C.G. Sudarshan.

Talking to The Hindu here on his arrival to receive the first Kerala Sastra Puraskaram (State award for lifetime accomplishments in science), Prof. Sudarshan, who is currently working at the University of Texas, USA, said the choice of scientists was likely to defeat the purpose of the scheme that offered a short stint of teaching and research in scientific institutions in the country.

“The selection would be dictated by a clique controlling the operations. What happens here is that there are king makers who consider themselves experts in everything. Such people sit in committees to select the scientists for the scheme,” he said.

When his attention was drawn to the special remuneration package for scientists to be selected for the programme, he said: “If a person wants to come back and he thinks it is worthwhile, he will come. A hefty remuneration need not result in the choice of the right person.”

Prof. Sudarshan said: “In the U.S., if you are good, you are given more responsibilities. It is not king makers who make the decision there.”

Higgs boson

A theoretical physicist, who first proposed the existence of tachyons, particles that travel faster than light, Prof. Sudarshan dismissed the discovery of the Higgs boson as insignificant.

“If you make a big accelerator and do an experiment with 200 people, something is bound to happen. But this is not going to solve the problem. This one particle is quite irrelevant. Other things were predicted but did not appear. If there is nothing important happening in science and a little thing happens, we magnify it and say now we have found the light. We have to be realistic and honest,” he said.


Expressing concern over the corruption running across the scientific establishment in India, he said a whole lot of people were working against progress. “Within the institutional structure, there is the mafia that decides what should be done. They make sure that nobody else with a different opinion from theirs comes up. At the other level, they promote and appoint a lot of people who are no good. And finally they get into the same mode of trying to advance themselves without doing any work. This kind of thing does not happen in an institute in the West.”

Terming the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research as a great institution, he said it had failed to produce world class scientists in physics because the people at the top were conspiring and advising the government as to how things should not be done.

A scientist who lectures and writes on spirituality, Prof. Sudarshan said: “The question of whether somebody can prove scientifically that there is no spirituality, or spiritually that there is no science, this is nonsense. Science meets spirituality because if you are honest, you will ask questions both in science and spirituality.”

Prof. Sudarshan lauded the Kerala Science Congress as an initiative to promote young scientists.

ECG is a real genius. I have listened to his lectures at I.I.Sc., Bangalore, so enlightening and mesmerizing to listen. He is a pioneer in research on Weak Field Theory. He discovered/predicted tachyons which travel faster than speed of light. This in a sense makes one of Einstein's claims wrong (Light speed is highest and constant). I think there are two folks got Nobel based on proving ECG's theory but he was not given Nobel Price. ECG Sudharsan and G.N.Ramachandran of I.I.Sc. both should have received Nobel Prices the former for Theoritical Physics and the later for Molecular Physics.

from:  Dr. Murthy
Posted on: Jan 26, 2013 at 01:33 IST

Science is universal,neutral and truth revealing.There is nothing called Indian science and Western science.Let young Indian scientists may work in India or migrate to any other country where good science can be studied, practiced and benefits shared for common good.Attempts are made to create a scientific temperment and enviornment in class rooms.We should not forget that India maintains and sustains 1200 million of people.Technologies like mobile, internet, tele medicine etc etc have made middle class Indian prosperous.From a mere 51 million tonnes of food grains in 1951 to 258 million tonnes of food grains in 2013, the increase is spectacular.The very selection of Dr E V G Sudarsan for the prestegeous award by Kerala State Council for Science,Technology and Environment stands testimony to the fairness.Lying down and spitting defaces only himself.We the scientists are all responsible for the fall in values, ethics and morality.We resort to all unfair means for selectionand promotion

from:  Dr K V Peter
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 22:20 IST

@K.Prashant I am a graduate from IIT Kanpur too and I did not need any
subsidy from the government for my education and given the option I
would have loved to pay whatever my education actually costed. I
strongly believe that there is no need to subsidize higher technical
education for _everyone_. The notion that you can force people to stay
in India without creating good jobs, research facilities and living
conditions using a false sense of obligation is stupid at best.

from:  Kashyap
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 18:35 IST

I totally agree with the comment on king makers. However, things will
not change merely by wishing it away, but only through a hard grind of
inculcating sound principles and people up from foundations. The way
shown by SaiBaba of educating and training children from their
elementary stage and see them grow, blossom and then move into
positions of power is a ground -up process and yields success. It
takes years, generations to bring about change where the well trained
person now is the king-maker, but there seem to be no shortcuts. look
at the experiment of inducting bright young men and women into IAS/IPS
cadres. Hopefully the letter and spirit of a well merited education,
the rigorous selection process are leading to at least a 50% mix of
right minded officers in the bureaucracy. Without such an
institution, it would have been a disaster where politicos merely
appoint their cronies or their favorite lobbyists. It calls for a
level of selflessness.

from:  Jagrit
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 17:22 IST

I very much doubt whether the proposed plan will achieve anything
worthwhile. Similar schemes in the past have not borne fruit. What
has appeared in news is an outline. The clarity of the goal and
thoughtful concern for details of how the scheme will work are most
important, but these are missing. Further what is the role of the
planning commission in this matter? It has neither the expertise
nor the experience.The prime need is to attract youngsters to
science, support and nurture them well. There is no need for a UNDP
type of scheme which will be fully funded by Indian funds that will
be diverted from the support of promising young scientists.

from:  T. N. Rengarajan
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 16:37 IST

If scientists think they are no different from sheep then they are perfectly justified in migrating elsewhere for greener pastures. But if they think they owe something to the nation that nurtured them, then they will look for ways to give back to the nation.
And the best way would be return to pursue research in India (maybe after completing postdoc in foreign countries if they think India is not good enough)

To get it straight from the horses mouth(being an IIT Kanpur student myself), Our Govt. actually spends a lot in subsidizing education for students in the IITs and most of the B-Tech passouts don't give a damn for anything to do with the country and instead are involved in making money for themselves.

from:  K.Prashant
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 16:20 IST

The planning commission has been a failure since its inception. The
planning commission didn't work in soviet union and there is no way it
is going to work in India. It is a big burden on the tax payer and it is
still trying to expand when the govt should shut down and reduce burden
on the tax payer. Will the scientists work for the govt. Where will
the govt get the money when it is bankrupt and cutting the defense
budget. R&D must be the function of private industry and not the govt.

from:  Satish
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 16:05 IST

I totally agree with Prof Sudarshan. If somebody just move to India for
1-3 year period, nothing will really change. This is usual time you need
to setup lab properly so what they are going to achieve? This will
become holiday ground for those who have good connections. What we need
is transparency and fair criteria in the selection process at the start
level (which is still missing in many institute and most of the
university in India).

from:  Raman
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 14:13 IST

While a selection governed by a coterie would be harmful, I do think that for RIGHT people, a lucrative package that includes remuneration along with much research funding (for equipment, travel, hiring, inviting visitors) could make returning for a stint attractive. I am not aware of what the planning commission has in mind but doubt if they can put together something sufficiently attractive for this to work.

from:  Sandeep Juneja
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 13:38 IST

Thus spake the Wise!

from:  Dr. Ramanathan
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 11:15 IST

Prof Sudarshan is a sensible person. On all 3 three different issues
what prevailed is simple common sense. India has too many demi and semi
Gods in all walks including S&T and journalism. We can appeal God to
save India.

from:  Jayanthi
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 10:54 IST

I quite agree with Prof.Sudarshan views on pseudo scientist working
in very many important institutions blocking the progress of the
country.It is high time for the government to put the science
education ministry under a able person who can understand what others
are thinking about our educational standards how we have failed to
produce one nobel laurete for the last two decades.It is high time to
weed out all the useless persons from the institutions whoare
heading them.Government audit should be established to scrutinise the
done by various people and reward or punish them accordingly.we are
only auditing the accounts to see whether money is spent according to
the purpose for which is allotted.Why we are not auditing the persons
for the usefulwork produced by them for the salary that they have
received. It is high time government is serious about this affair.As
long as persons staying abroad receive credits for their extra
abilities,nobody would come back to India for jobs.

from:  pkkrishnamurthi
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 08:49 IST


I am a Physicist and I find his ideology very pessimistic.

IN this article I cannot talk about any thing except the discovery of Higgs boson. I have personally worked in the experiment and I know the amount of hard work one has to do for such kind of results.

I think if he had born during the times of Einstein, he would have told that photoelectric effect is insignificant.

from:  rajiv subramaniam
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 08:48 IST

In India itself in a premier government owned Bharat Electronics Ltd dealing with development of electronic equipments in frontline areas, people with shop floor experience of managing people with mechanical engineering background are calling shots.How under such atmosphere talented people would get attracted towards India?
It may draw attention of some frustrated connected people with dubious achievements for their personal agenda- but country shall not gain!

from:  atis
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 06:59 IST

I think he is perfectly correct on all the three topics ”planning Science”, “Higgs boson” and the “corrupt political Scientists” in India.
But nothing will change here. The vested interest of the Politicians and their “Scientists”. are very deep. I am very skeptical about the set up.
The young aspersing scientists better leave India and look for green pastures elsewhere.

from:  Gopinathan Krishnan
Posted on: Jan 25, 2013 at 06:42 IST
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