Friday, July 06, 2007

Research, does it still pull?

I am a research scholar in Mathematics and thought of writing a piece on the decline that research in India is facing. To my sadist pleasure when I went for a google search with words like "declining research in India" I found a list of articles narrating the sorry state of affairs in research. The above sited link specifically talks about the decline in the Mathematics research in India specially in institutes of repute like the IITs, IISc, HRI (Allahabad) and MatSci (Chennai).

Research in India is facing a few basic problems. I would share here the problems I have faced as one of the members of the fraternity and heard my friends experiencing as a researcher.

The first and the most disturbing being the total disrespect to the sancitity that research and researchers command. The society who is naive about research sees a researcher in high esteem but it's the people who are a part of the system who make a researcher look like nothing more than a person whon has lost out on other options in life. I am a Mathematics Olympiad certificate holder, a CBSE merit-cum-scholarship awardee, an NBHM, Department of Atomic Energy Scholarship holder, a CSIR-UGC fellowship holder, but all these laurels seem to be of no particular value when I see the attitude the department and supervisors have towards researchers in general. They make you believe indebted to them for allowing you to do research each and every moment. I have been asked by a well-wisher in the department not to revolt against the system as that is not going to help, rather to get things done feeling subdued and submissive.

I have only one thing to question, despite getting offers of lucrative courses like MBA I listened to my calling and went for research, then why am I made to feel everyday that it was the garvest mistake I committed in life? Why during the peak years of our creativity, youth, energy and rigor we are asked to remain subdued so that our work gets done?

This is not the only problem, during research one grows old enough and is expected to maintain the family. A scholarship of Rs. 8000 per month hardly suffices in today's market. Though there is little hope in this respect as recently the government has got alarmed by the seriousness of the issue and has thereby increased the expenditure on research and so things can be hoped to improve.

But still there remains the problem of the lack of a job security even if a 'subdued' you somehow manages to complete research with that meagre Rs. 10000 per month when you know that had you put even half that amount of labour in some other field you would have been touching the skies.

The only pull factor that research carries now is when people courageously decide to hear their calling and take up research despite being aware of the odds. If this continues and nothing is done urgently, the motivation of listening to one's calling would burn off in no time.

The need of the hour is to give each and every researcher their due respect and every possible help to complete the streneous journey of five years of aimless wandering at the peak of their youths. The need of the hour is a little cooperation and motivation from the stalwarts and the policy-makers of the field. The need of the hour is to realise that research is declining and so it's important to motivate the prospective researchers and provide an inspriring working environment so that they don't go hunting for greener pastures.

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