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Independent India But No Nobel Prize in Science : NATURE

Independent India But No Nobel Prize in Science : NATURE

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Published by Dr Abhas Mitra
Science News on India
Science News on India

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Dr Abhas Mitra on Apr 12, 2013
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04/12/2013

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News
Nature
 
388
, 613 (14 August 1997) |
Independence, but no Nobel winners for India since then
K. S. Jayaraman, new delhi, New Delhi
As India celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of its independence today (14 August),many are asking why no Indian scientist has been awarded a Nobel prize in thepost-independence era. India's only Nobel winner in science, ChandrasekharaVenkata Raman, was a product of British times; so were Srinivasa Ramanujan, theeminent mathematician, the astrophysicist Meghnad Saha, and Satyendra Bose, of boson fame.Independent India invested $50 billion in setting up a huge infrastructure whichincluded about 120 university institutes of technology, and 100 nationallaboratories, which the country's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, called"temples of science". But these temples failed to produce gods of the stature of Raman or Bose.According to leading contemporary Indian scientists, the reason is not difficult tofind. "Our system in national labs or universities discourages initiative, innovationor inspiration," says Jayant Narlikar, a prominent astronomer. "It is geared to theprogress of the average scientist... as a society, we are uncomfortable withexcellence."Many feel that one mistake India made was to let an excellent university systemsteadily decay. "Massive reforms are now needed to save these sinkinginstitutions," says Chintamani Nageswara Rao, chairman of the cabinet committeeon science and technology. The future of science in India, says Rao, depends on asmall percentage of the best young talent who remain working in the fewinstitutions still able to offer good research facilities.This does not mean that Indian scientists have no reason to rejoice over the golden jubilee of independence. Over the past 50 years, Indian science has eliminatedfamines, improved life expectancy and brought satellites, supercomputers andatomic power. Food production has increased fourfold, and India is now the world'ssecond-largest milk producer, after the United States."But research failed to eradicate poverty or control population growth," saysGovindarajan Padmanabhan, director of the Indian Institute of Science inBangalore.Rajesh Kochhar, a historian of science, argues that science has failed to make agreater impact because most research in independent India has been carried outwith a greater emphasis on achieving personal recognition abroad
a passport topromotion at home
than on its importance in an Indian context. "The Indian

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