Monday, January 04, 2010

उल्टा गब्बर गाववालों को डांटे !

Or, how captain of thieves lectures to the looted townsfolk !

This is our prime-minister's (MMS) message :

Terming as "unfortunate" regression in some sectors of Indian science due to red tape and political interference, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday asked scientists to engage with government to liberate it from shackles of "bureaucratism and in-house favouritism".

Hello, "some sectors of Indian science"? The truth is that this phenomenon pervades the entire Indian science, industry and innovation sector. The political class, with the help of the beureaucrats, are looting the innovators, hard-working people. The entire structure is based to make money, so hire those scientists who pay ministers, allow more research funds to those who will share the cut with ministers, and so on. (All know certain cases where appointments were made when money was paid to various places, don't we?) This structure does not allow for clean scientists to survive and go on to make discoveries (and share it with government and 'babu's as a part of copyrights/ patents etc.)

1) Now the onus is on us to "engage with the government"? What is "government" here, the beureaucrats and ministers (and their cronies). What does "engagement" mean, sleep with them or pamper their whims? The "government" is not going to cede power, the PM has to empower a (large) body of scientists, taken broadly from all universities and institutes, to create a new structure. Indian Academy of Sciences is the oldest such body, and he and his government should the first step in inviting the body... The formation is the most crucial step here, if not done properly, it would not make any impact whatsoever: it has to be politically impartial, neutral to gender/ caste/ regional/ subject-field biases.

Holding that time has come to give a "new boost" to science and technology, he asked Indian scientists working abroad to return to the country to convert the "brain drain" to "brain gain".

Why should anyone come back? What guarantee that the structure is never formed? Individuals need incentives to do work, and assurance that when political power shifts, the above step does not get lost.

2) So, the formation and successive framework has to be carried out after a prolonged debate with opposition parties, esp. the major opposition (BJP in particular). This engagement is crucial, this will bring necessary neutrality.

The Prime Minister appealed to scientific institutions to introspect and to propose mechanisms for greater autonomy, including from the government, which could help to improve standards.

Sorry, MMS, this time the onus (of introspection) is squarely on the political class. Take permission from the Italian madam, or the Prince, and start broader reforms, more akeen to the financial reforms you had initiated in 1991. For that, the political class needs to rescind their powers and will to make wanten money from every possible decision.

Noting that the government has declared 2010-2020 as a "decade of innovation", he said, "We cannot continue with business as usual as we need new solutions in many areas to achieve the goals of inclusive and sustainable growth."

He pitched for a strong outward orientation of the innovation eco-system to stimulate innovation to find indigenous solutions for local problems.

Such declaration, esp. by weak governments like India, do not carry much meaning. Tokenism of this kind has hurt us all this while. What is this obfuscation "outward orientation of the innovation eco-system"?

4) To make innovation happen, government has to provide incentives: simple banking/ funding possibilities, easy access to patenting and copy-rights, crucially simpler access to information (using internet). Given recent silly internet banning of "sex" and related material, we can safely forget about information exchange, the most key aspect of innovation and research.

MMS is only making an empty speech, good on words (and he may even understand significance of those), but empty on actions...

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