The development of a country hinges on how active is its research and development sector
About three decades ago the number of young minds who were taking pure science courses be it chemistry, physics or biology for PG studies averaged around 35 to 40 percent. And that was one reason why the colleges had some of the best teachers whose minds were tuned to research. But in the present context as per a study made by UGC, the percentage of students joining pure science courses has not only dropped down to below five, especially in states like Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, but the colleges, be it junior or degree colleges are feeling the heat due to the lack of quality teachers in physics, chemistry and mathematics.
On why pure science has taken a backseat, Prof. B.N.Srinivas, HoD of Chemistry Usha Rama College of Engineering and Technology said, parents are partially responsible for that. “The EAMCET bug has bitten almost every parent. Two decades ago there were only about 25 engineering colleges and today there are over 700 colleges. One can just walk in for admission into an engineering college. Hence the lure to get into an engineering college has put pure science in the backseat,” he said.
He further added that the fee structure has also added to the cause. “Today the fee for engineering college is around Rs 35,000 and it comes under the reimbursement scheme. So parent’s and even students tend to join engineering college, even though they are of sub-standard quality,” said Professor Srinivas.
Acquiescing with Prof. Srinivias, professor Ramanamurhty from the Pharmacy Department of Andhra University pointed out that placement was another lure. “Though only 20 per cent of the engineering students get good placement, it worked like magic to tempt students from all walks of life- irrespective of their strength and liking into the engineering fold,” he said.
Research takes backseat
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh many a time reiterated that the development of a country hinges on how active is its research and development sector. And major portion of the research is shared by minds from pure science background. “Days are not far when we have to depend on countries like China for a chemical formulae for developing a soap or detergent. Unlike in India, pure science is given utmost importance in all other countries like China, US, UK and Germany,” said Prof. Srinivas.
About three decades ago pure science was in great demand, the cut off for entry into a PG courses was about 93 per cent, and that was when research flourished in our country, said Prof. Ramanamurthy. Pure science, be it natural, physical or mathematical, is the backbone for research and development and its neglect will have an adverse impact in the long run, said the professor from Andhra University.
Wide career options
There is a wrong notion that job opportunities are only available for engineers, said Prof. Srinivas. “Today only about 20 per cent of the engineers was fit for recruitment, and that to majority find placement in the IT sector. But for pure science students the options are multiple. They can find placement in research area, teaching and jobs in PSU through GATE. There is huge demand for pure science students in the west in the research arena,” said the professor.