Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This blog was created with the objective of raising a platform for debating, discussing, interacting and innovating ideas about issues that confront food technology with a free access to one and all with passion for the subject.As indicated earlier all comments, even critical of this blogger WILL be published here without moderation as long as the language used is civil and no personal agenda is pushed through under the guise of any commonaity. Further it is the desire of this blogger to continue this platform for years to come with trusted colleagues/friends taking his place after his time. Though initially there was disappointment at the lack of response in the form of constructive comments, the effort was continued since blogging is relatively a new activity and the practice of reading blog is yet to take root in this country. It is strongly felt that youngsters undergoing education and training in Universities and other learning centers in food science and technology and young professionals in their early career phase can learn some thing about writing on the subject by reading this blog regularly, besides updating their information base.

The last blog which appeared on December 26, 2008 drew many comments which were all published without any moderation and any one who wants to criticize this blogger also can do it, so that the contents in the published item are balanced and equitable to all. The provocation for this particular blog was the editorial which appeared to have crossed the fine line of objective analysis, almost bordering on one sided affirmation of unjustified claims of people for celebrity status. Many retired scientists who are no more in active service in their chosen field but still committed to the subject have been watching helplessly the high decibel claims like 1000 patents, earth shaking technological achievements without any basis, tsunami heroics and call for help from Katrina flood victims for foods, the supposed bonding with industry, getting many regional, national, international and extra terrestrial laurels for many of the imaginary achievements, etc etc etc etc. But probably it is time they stand up and call the bluff. It is time an accountability check is made by a high level commission of GOI with the assistance of a few non controversial peers with unsullied reputation and the guilty is severely punished with out any sympathy, for wasting precious public funds earmarked for R & D for personal ends.

Many of the comments submitted without giving out the identities of those who sent them pose serious questions regarding the democratic functioning of scientific institutions in the country as there appears to be an atmosphere of fear that pervades through their portals. It is beyond the scope of this bog to delve deeper into the malaise that afflicts the community of food scientists in this country but appropriate authorities who are vested with the responsibility of managing R &D in foods must wake up to this reality for taking remedial actions. Pretending not seeing it is like ignoring the cancerous affliction before it eats up the vitals, signifying the death of food research in this country. What ever little initiative, pride and loyalty to the country that is left also will evaporate if the situation continues like this.

One of the comments received and published suggests to start a new blog for mysorejoker. blogspot.com for dedicating to a particular person who seems to be fond of calling every one a joker but this blogger is not good in the field of satire and has no grudge or grouse agaist any body that may require venting out in public. A Food Technology blog is not a sterile/sanitized site and if responsible person(s) or institution(s) are perceived to be harming the interests of the subject or its sincere practitioners, same has to be dealt with, setting aside any personal considerations like friendship, relationship, etiquette, sympathy or other factors. Probably the anonymous person who made this suggestion can consider starting such an exclusive blog for entertaining the public. Here are the best wishes for the venture.



Anonymous said...

The star of Mysore editorial on Dr.Prakash was timed when the house (the great institute CFTRI) was on fire. This does not reflect well. Naturally CFTRI scientists, including you, reacted sharply. Dr.Potty thank you for giving us a forum to vent our views. Let the scientific administrators know that scientists do not take practices of scientific dishonesty lightly. It is a good gesture that you invited everyone to join the discussion. If anyone can scientifically argue that the PNAS paper retraction has not caused harm to the Institute and Indian science we will only be too happy to take forward that argument in the interest of the nation. I hope the opportunity will be used to get us, CFTRI scientists, out of this misery.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could write my name but having been bitten by him, I don’t think one has the patience to fight him, his deceptive cunning and the vindictive stamina and strength (what else, do you think he does at 4 am in the office?). There is only one expectation and that is to look up to you and other retired Directors to bring sanity in the professional lives of the scientists, before it is too late. This blog seems god send!

The recent IFCON was a rude shock for a lot of us scientists. We have truly gone down. The quality of CFTRI posters was very poor. In fact, posters (and therefore) work of UDCT, DFRL and other institutions were better than CFTRI, even Shivaji University, for crying out loud, is doing better than us!

There was a time when the internal infrastructural strengths of the institute, such as printing press, the supporting sections of the workshop, such as smithy, foundry, carpentry, were admired and well known in CSIR, going to waste. It is sad to hear a pin drop silent pilot plant and a ghostly quiet workshop. I am sure you know that there is not a single new product from CFTRI from 1994 !!

Dr Potty, you write: “…But probably it is time they stand up and call the bluff. It is time an accountability check is made by a high level commission of GOI with the assistance of a few non controversial peers with unsullied reputation and the guilty is severely punished with out any sympathy, for wasting precious public funds earmarked for R & D for personal ends…”

One whole heartedly agree with this, but who will bell the cat? Scientists, senior ones in fact, are not being heard by CSIR. The HQ says as he is a padmasree awardee and the seniormost director, he cannot be touched! So the advise from them is: keep quiet till he retires.
But that does not prevent retired scientists and retired directors of CFTRI, including yourself, to drag him in the public debates and question him on his doings. Surely, having participated in the building of this wonderful public funded institution, you have every right to question when the issue of survival is at stake and the time is now. Please, Dr Potty, Dr Parpia, Dr Amla and scores of other retd scientists, please save the institute, before it goes down your very own eyes!

Anonymous said...

Hello Dr.Prakash, Dr.G.A.Ravishankar, Dr.Giridhar and Editor Star of Mysore : Dr.V.H.Potty has provided a forum for scientific discussion and he has also promised to publish every comment. Can we have your views on the PNAS paper retraction. I am sure this retraction should have had the approval of the Director (Dr.V.Prakash). How did he view the epsiode? CFTRI Research Council Chairman, Dr.M.S.Swaminathan, communicated the paper for its publication. Sir if you are viewing this blog comments can we know your views? All of you have a responsibility to answer. Pleaase note Dr.Mashelkar's plagiarism story unfolded when the blog author, from whose book the details were lifted, described it to his readers.

Anonymous said...

Cases of unethical science are viewed extremely seriously the world over. The organization that funded the research, the labs from were the dishonest research arose and the journal that reported such results carry out investigations, introspect their procedures and give wide publicity on the actions taken to drive home the point that dishonest science will not be tolerated. Journals like Nature and Science have discussed inadequacies in their peer reviewing system (in the recent past) when papers published were retracted after peers complained on data fabrication. Wikipedia (accessible via internet) has carried an exclusive on Jan Hendrik Schön scientific misconduct episode. In June 2004 the University of Konstanz issued a press release stating that Schön's doctoral degree had been revoked due to dishonourable conduct. The Seoul National University, after a thorough probe, sacked Hwang Woo-Suk and also made the report public. These were done to uphold the reputation of the Institutes and the Journals.

In the case of CFTRI-PNAS paper retraction, I am informed that, the journal sent the defense of CFTRI authors to several referees. They were not convinced and each of them demanded paper retraction. The journal, keeping to their reputation, has done the job. Will the Institute and the funding body (DBT) do theirs to preserve the reputation of Indian labs and its Science?

Dr.T.N.Vasudevan said...

I do not intend being anonymous.I am your class mate. I fully agree with the points raised in your blog regarding accountability. Bombay recently lost crores of rupees on terrorism, a heavy loss,yet a loss that is quantified. But the loss caused to the nation by scientists at the helm of affairs in our national institutes and Universities, nobody knows.Without exagerration it can easily account for the cost of many such terrorist damages. Loss of life they have not caused, but to indian science they dealt a mortal blow.If a cost benefit anaysis were to be sincerely undertaken, even the best known institutes in our country would miserably fail.Occasional flash lights might be there, their brightness exagerrated by the dark of sheer non performance of the surrounding.I do not think that we indians have the moral courage to stand up and say" the king is naked". Yet, I laud your efforts in raising a counter voice against this scientific terrorism and I on my part would spread your message mid our colleagues.

Ex UDCT Mumbai

Dr. V.H . Potty said...

We must hang our heads in shame for not bringing to books scientific jugglers and fraudsters through sheer indifference and non-chalance. It is time we stand up and speak the truth without fear or favor.

Anonymous said...

I want to add something regarding this PNAS paper. During Dec 2007 I was visiting Stonybrook university, where I met a PhD student who was also visiting from Cornell University and happenned to be from a lab, where they have been working on capsaicin biosynthetic pathway for many years. During a casual discussion with this student, she asked me if I knew anything about this group from CFTRI (Dr. Ravishankar's group), for which I said no and then asked her why?. Then she told me how her Boss and her whole group felt BAD about the paper and she was very critical of how this paper could be published. Then for curiosity I myself went through the paper and was shocked how in the first place the Director of CFTRI and then Dr. Swaminathan agreed to communicate it to PNAS. In the paper they claim that they have identified Capsacin synthase but nowhere in the paper they biochemically show the capsaicin formation from this gene.
I have just started my scientific career in India after being outside for 8 years and I'm seeing how these BIG people of Indian science are running the Indian Science. Sometimes I think, IISc for example has enjoyed all kinds of funding and infrastructure compared to any other place in India, but still none of the Scientists from IISc have not been atleast (forget about getting one) nominated for the Noble prize.
Getting Bhatnagar award itself is a big achievement for these people that too with lot of politics.


onno david said...

My opinion is that, if it's free, why not let everyone have it like food. If food could be free somehow, let everyone have free food. Then spend all that extra money working on new technology. Technically this wouldn't be new technology, it would be borrowed and adapted technology. Kind of like how intense martial arts practices borrow movements and techniques from animals? That's my opinion, anyway.

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