The poor standards (“Paralysis of science policies”, Feb. 7) of public investment in the domain of research and development in our country reflect the lack of political will and explain why we have not, despite our historical scientific credentials, been able to emerge as a force to reckon with in the fields of science and technology. Besides enhancing public investment in the area of study, there is a need to initiate concrete and time-bound steps to overhaul our present education system, which only perpetuates rote lumping of information by students. An educational system which discourages, even stifles, the child’s natural instincts of creativity and innovation cannot be expected to turn out students with a scientific bent of mind. It is time we release our universities from the shackles of political influence and make it a hub for inquisitive minds and inventive aptitudes.
SholavandanIt is sad that our government spends a pittance on a field as vast and essential as research. Our country’s education system is at present propagating a flawed method of rearing scientific minds. The student has been conditioned to strive for the highest marks in examinations that test one’s ability to cram facts haphazardly without regard to their mindful assimilation. This hectic process leaves an avid learner, pressured by the system, with little option but to follow the wrong learning methods. What good is it if our nation’s entire student population qualifies for admission into our best universities but is unable to match wits with those from foreign institutions who have been bred on a much more effective learning process? We cannot complain of brain drain when we accord so little respect for the brain in practical application.
It may be true that India’s gross domestic expenditure on research and development (GERD) to GDP ratio, as compared to that of other Asian countries, has been low since over a decade and we lack a clear R&D strategy. It is, in this regard, important to understand that R&D is not a standalone activity. It is contributed to by a multitude of attendant infrastructural components.
First, increasing R&D necessitates expenditure in other areas such as social security and welfare to facilitate comfortable study. Second, simply increasing R&D expenditure will do no good unless we have a sizeable pool of professionals that is equipped to fertilise it and, therefore, justify the budget. Growth in R&D has to be pegged to our ability to attract professionals to the area. For this, R&D has to be made as remunerative as any other field. In this pursuit, it is indispensable that we enhance the qualitative standards of our universities and evolve methods of integrating teaching and research so that both function symbiotically.
R&D is one of the most basic grassroots-based platforms for economic development. India — plagued by distractions such as poverty, population growth, price rise, and so on — is still not stable enough to invest enough in R&D. We tend to have little left over after all these expenditures and are forced to keep borrowing from other countries. The recent green energy corridor project, which focussed on transmission loss, is an example. Private companies must play a big part in sponsoring the nation's scientific endeavours.