"Ad" nauseum: Science and technology

It is "payback" time for the scientific establishment too! The incumbent Indian government, keen to amass political capital well before the next year's general elections, hasn't spared scientific research in the country either. An increasing number of ads -- extolling the Vajpayee regime's contributions in the realm of science and technology -- are of late featuring in newspapers and magazines. Read together, these ads paint a rosy picture about contemporary Indian science

 
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

-- science and technology

It is "payback" time for the scientific establishment too! The incumbent Indian government, keen to amass political capital well before the next year's general elections, hasn't spared scientific research in the country either. An increasing number of ads -- extolling the Vajpayee regime's contributions in the realm of science and technology -- are of late featuring in newspapers and magazines. Read together, these ads paint a rosy picture about contemporary Indian science.

In stark contrast, two Indian premier research agencies -- Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (csir) and Department of Biotechnology (dbt) -- got a real dressing-down from the Comptroller and Auditor General (cag) of India for not being able to sell the technologies they had developed. The cag reports, released a couple of months ago, were replete with instances of mismanagement of technology development. csir, which has the mandate to develop industrially useful technologies, has had more than two-thirds of its 984 technologies languishing on the shelf. Also, it is public knowledge how the quality and the numbers of scientific papers from the country has been declining in the last two decades.

So, whom should one believe: politicians or cag? Maybe the latter, for accountants, unlike politicians, rarely lie.

Science in this country is entangled in a bureaucratic maze. Its administrators spend more energy in pleasing their political bosses than guiding scientific research. For them it is important to ensure that advertisements with beaming faces of ministers get splashed in the media. Genuine problems of a scientist working in a far away lab mean little.

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