Research in India inadequate: CNR Rao

Exploring ideas: Students at an exhibition at the Indian Science Congress on Saturday.

Exploring ideas: Students at an exhibition at the Indian Science Congress on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: V. Sreenivasa Murthy


‘Neither the quality nor quantity is enough’

Neither the quality nor quantity of publications that come out of India is adequate, said C.N.R. Rao, one of the foremost chemists in India.

The 2013 Bharat Ratna awardee was the chief guest at the Indian Science Congress held in Bengaluru and was speaking at the Children’s Science Congress, a satellite-event meant to exhibit science projects by school children and have them engage with Nobel Laureates and eminent scientists.

Mr. Rao, 86, who was a former science advisor to the Prime Minister, said on Saturday that China had made major strides in science, and as of today, it nearly equalled the research publication output of the U.S. — the leading producer of scientific publications in the world.

PM’s remarks

Mr. Rao’s comments come a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the congress, lauded India for being in the “3rd position globally,” in terms of peer-reviewed science- and engineering-publications.

“I have been told that India has climbed to third position globally in the number of peer reviewed science and engineering publications. It is also growing at a rate of about 10% as compared to global average of 4%,” he said on Friday.

Low rate of citation

“I’m not worried about the quantity [of Indian publications] but quality is important,” said Mr. Rao.

Several studies of publication trends have shown that India’s share in the world research output hovers around 5%. But the rate of citations — the number of times these articles are cited and used as proxy for quality — is much lower at 2-3%.

Mr. Rao stressed that science didn’t require degrees but dedication and doggedness, and the future of science lay with young people.

“Indian tradition worships Lakshmi and Saraswati. Praying to Lakshmi yielded money and was easy ... But Saraswati — or the Goddess of Knowledge — is hard to please and required sincere dedication,” he said. “I hope some young students pursue this path,” added Mr. Rao

On Friday, Mr. Modi exhorted students to “innovate, patent, produce and prosper”.

The Children’s Science Congress saw students of several thousand schools converge at the University of Agricultural Science here to hear Nobel Laureates speak and watch science projects and experiments by their peers. They were also shown scientific projects by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, several labs of the Department of Science and Technology and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:25:42 AM |

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