Nomination to the fellowship of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) is generally considered by senior scientists as one of the better indications of recognition of their talent. That at least some of its functioning is controversial was brought home sharply just prior to its diamond jubilee celebrations in January: Pushp Bhargava, former director of the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, became the first nominated fellow to resign from the academy.
In a letter to INSA president S K Joshi, Bhargava accused the academy of being filled with scientists who "are by and large conservative and totally unconcerned about major social, economic, moral or ethical issues that relate to science". He charged that most of INSA's funds were wasted in activities that do not bring any real benefit to either the country's scientific community or the people.
Bhargava was particularly harsh in criticising INSA's policy of nominating fellows. "Most of the time, these are on considerations other than merit and the INSA is full of people who should not be there," he said.
Joshi said only the observations "were not based on facts". But Bhargava's resignation is expected to lead to a demand for an explanation of why nomination applications for geo-physical scientists K L Kalia and J G Negi have been rejected 10 times each despite their having a significant number of original research papers.
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