INTERNATIONAL 'RECOGNITION'- THE ART OF GETTING IT
Mysoreans were supposed to have been 'thrilled' on the Xmas day by reading an "inspired" editorial in a local paper that a 'son of the soil' food scientist has achieved the pinnacle of glory by becoming the president of an obscure organization about which practically no one in the country is aware of. Though this person was a member of this organization comprising of 'mutual admiration society' folks from a few countries and was 'elected' president for 2008-2010 more than two years ago, why this news suddenly became a topic for an 'editorial' is a mystery. India is 'blessed' with many so called 'scientists cum politicians' who do not leave any opportunity to 'garner' awards, titles, positions of power and pelm, be in the media if possible every day preferably with their color photographs, be a chief guest, special guest, VIP guest, key not speaker, etc , though their actual contribution to the the development in the country needs a microscope to see.
IUFoST is a conglomerate of many non-governmental national organizations of food science and technology controlled by developed countries and the Indian body AFST(I) had found to its dismay long ago that it does not serve the purpose of national interest to continue as a 'paid' member of IUFoST. IAFoST is an exclusive club promoted by this body to reward those influential in their own country by virtue of their position or those who actively canvas for getting membership of the Academy to bloat their bio-data for personal glorification or boosting their career. Currently there are two 'members' from India who 'got' into this body (no one knows how?) and there appears to be a competition between them as to who will garner more number of awards from wherever they are available. One of these had recently the ignominy of 'retracting' a paper published in the reputed periodical PNAS of USA as it was found to be not based on reproducible scientific data. This was all the more reprehensible because the paper was reported to have been 'peer reviewed' for the periodical by one of the 'famous' agricultural scientists who had set up a research foundation in his own name with the award money he got for his 'achievements' some years ago. It is instances like these which generate skepticism regarding the genuineness of innumerable awards being sponsored by all and sundry. What credibility the food scientists working with them will have amongst the industry, the public and the governments, especially when technologies developed by them are offered for commercialization? Of course Indians are immune to getting shocked at these episodes as even the national and state awards have become a laughing stock due their politicization lately. Any thing is possible in an era when degrees and awards can be purchased at a price from some of the organizations that operate all over the world.
Before publishing such 'inspired' reports, the media have the responsibility to verify and corroborate the claims. Being in Mysore no body would have missed the sorry spectacle of this newly acclaimed international food scientist being sent back from Delhi without allowing to take over as Secretary to GOI under mysterious circumstances and his going out of circulation for almost 6 months. Scientists are supposed to be humble with high humility and pursue truth even under adverse circumstances. Here we have examples in the field of food technology the very anti thesis of such virtues expected from a honest scientist. The credibility of food scientists and technologists is at stake and it is the collective responsibility of them to reassert and reclaim the lost ground because of the blemishes of a few amongst them who can go to any extent to turn focus on themselves sacrificing the interrests of their organization and colleagues.
Just like the 'beauties' being trained by many specialized schools for achieving the much coveted Miss World or Miss Universe titles, probably the pioneers like those mentioned above, with wealth of experience in notching up one award after another through their well horned skills can even think of setting up a training center at the evening of their life when no more awards are there for picking!. This Center can help future scientists with uncontrolled satiety for ' name and fame' through short cuts by transferring the art and skills they have in attracting international recognition at any 'cost'! Here are prayers for the redemption of Indian food science and technology from the clutches of "Award Seeking Pioneers".