Quality of Research: Only a fig leaf

 
Last Updated: Sunday 28 June 2015

Quality of Research: Only a fig leaf

-- I n 1996-97, the government of India claims that it spent Rs 333.8 crore on protection and sustainable use of the environment. Our research shows that in 1998-99, the government spent some Rs 474.81 crore. These may be inadequate sums of money, but by themselves they are not small. How well is this money being spent to protect the health of our ecosystems, the country's biodiversity and human beings?

In an attempt to understand the quality of this research, Down To Earth and the Centre for Science and Environment applied the same criteria it applied to find the Green Scientist 2001 to all the nominations received. And then applied the Five Green Leaves methodology developed by cse to assess the environmental performance of Indian companies (see table: Green Leaves Award Weighted Score ). The results were abysmally poor.

l Of the total 60 nominations received, as many as 52 were rejected for consideration for the award because they were not found to be working in areas of priority identified by the jury. These 52 nominees got 305 marks out of a total of 2,600 -- an average of 5.9 marks out of a maximum of 50.

l For the eight nominations considered for the award, the nominees received 226 marks out of a total of 400 -- an average of 28.3 out of a maximum of 50.

l Thus, all the nominees together received 531 marks out of a maximum of 3,000 -- an average of 17.7 per cent.

As a result, dte and cse can give the environmental research sector only a one leaf award.

This is obviously very poor performance. And, mind you, this does not present the full picture of the quality of environmental research in India. Because these are ratings received by people who were nominated for the Green Scientist Award.

We would expect these scientists to be amongst the better environmental scientists in the country. And dte-cse made a special effort to find good environmental scientists. If all those who were not nominated for the award were included, the ratings would obviously be far worse.

Compared to the environmental challenges that India faces, it is clear that scientific research is not up to the task. India's r&d managers must knock their heads together to see how the country's r&d rupees are better spent.

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