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.”
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.