Sunday, October 9, 2011


There are many virtues one expects from men and women aspiring to be leaders of scientific pursuits and the most critical one is integrity. Of course there are other qualities like knowledge, experience, good track record and leadership quality to inspire colleagues. It is known that many scientific and technical institutions in India are headed by "round holes in the square pegs" and these undeserving persons get to the top through political patronage with their Godfathers at Delhi standing behind them for necessary protection if they are caught at some time or the other! Scientists are supposed to pursue truth through their research and the very same people becoming corrupt in thoughts and action is a sad commentary on Indian science!

Close on the heels of some enlightened and eminent persons questioning the real worth of the faculty at IITs under the HRD Ministry and the quality of students gaining admission, comes the news about the damning of the Directors of two IITs in the country which caused some consternation among all sections of Indian society. It appears that these two Directors were indicted by the highest crime investigating agency in the country and despite this they continue to be supported by the government allowing them to function unhindered with no punishment of any nature. Millions of law abiding Indians, having faith in the constitution and believing in the philosophy that "retribution must follow wrong doers" are appalled by the indifference or support or condoning the wrong doings, by higher ups with clout and power base. As for the scientists who are found guilty of wrong doing, if they have even an iota of conscience and shame they should have put in their papers long ago. Unfortunately these values are no more important in to day's India with politicians and bureaucrats setting the example for violating all decent norms of life. Look at the corruption, financial scams, looting of public funds, criminal activities and other undesirable doings across the country with no political party above this shameful practices and naturally no Delhi-based or controlled administrator can be expected to be immune to this "gravy train"!

One is reminded of another Director in an established CSIR Laboratory specialized in food research who was recently "allowed" to go "Scot free" in spite of solid evidence of nepotism, corruption, financial misappropriation and literally "killing" the organization through brutal suppression of decent scientists, not towing his line! It is not that GOI did not know about his wrong doings because almost all investigating arms of the government had damned him for his dereliction of duty and unethical management of this great scientific institution for almost 17 years! His strength was his political muscle with almost all parties though what cost he had paid for their patronage is not known still. How such a person was allowed to go on "voluntary" retirement without even an admonition, is known only to the Director General of CSIR, Minister for Science and Technology and the Prime Minister who chairs the Governing Council of CSIR. Is it not callousness, indifference and insensitivity on the part of the GOI to allow this person to go without any accountability? Not only that CSIR was "magnanimous" in rewarding this person with "Distinguished Scientist" though no one knows what distinction he was able to bring to food science during his pedestrian career.

Can good Science survive in this country with a government bent on supporting mediocrity and corruption ridden scientists? There are hundreds of good honest scientists in the country with high technical and achievement credentials who are never allowed to come up due to this unfortunate phenomenon requiring people to be sycophants and "feet touching" champions if to be in power in government institutions. It is time that the main stream scientists rise against this deplorable situation and make research and technical institutions more democratic and upright. Leaders must be chosen based on acceptance by the scientific staff who are more tuned to the needs of the organization rather than through a charade involving pliable selectors with doubtful credentials. May be there is a need for the rise of an "Anna Hazare" from the scientific group to raise sane voice against corruption in science. Why not a special "scientists malpractice" punishing system where those caught practicing plagiarism, becoming corrupt and mismanaging science can be brought to book and deter others from indulging in such wrong doings? Of course this is possible only if sufficient honest scientist-cum administrators are still left in the country for doing this thankless job!


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