Thursday, October 29, 2015

India - Govt. tells labs: fund research by yourself. Scientists are now required to show how their research contributes to society outreach. Our viewpoint: CSIR laboratories should open doors for collaboration with the systems that can bring and convert societal needs for the useful research

Our viewpoint: CSIR laboratories and Academic Institutions should open doors for collaboration with the systems that can bring and convert societal needs for the useful research.

Cash-strapped, the Ministry of Science and Technology has mandated organisations involved in scientific research to start ‘self-financing’ projects; send in monthly updates and ensure that research stays in sync with the Central government’s ‘social and economic objectives.’’
The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has been directed to generate half of its funds and start sending report cards to the Centre on how “each of the laboratory [is] focusing its resources on developing specific lines of inventions which would contribute to the social and economic objectives of the Narendra Modi government for the poor and the common man.”
The decision was part of a two-day ‘Chintan Shivir’ held at Dehradun in June and ended with all CSIR labs resolving to turn research projects into ‘for-profit’ ventures over the next two years.”
As part of the ‘Dehradun Declaration,’ all laboratories signed up to “develop a revenue model in a business-like manner with a clear cost-benefit analysis.
‘Indigenous science’
“The most worrisome aspect was representatives from Vigyan Bharati, an organisation affiliated to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) being part of this discussion. The idea was to ensure ‘indigenous science’ was also promoted. But what was the RSS doing in this meeting,” said a senior official who was a part of the meet.
For now, funding for the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) & Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) — both under the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) — have not been affected, said a senior scientist at CSIR, raising concerns over industry’s involvement in research and the resultant clash of interest.
“While DAE institutions are spared for the moment, institutes under the CSIR are badly hit by the government’s budget slash. Under the Dehradun Declaration, research institutions have been asked to raise part of their money for research through external funded projects and grants. While senior and established researchers can manage to secure grants, young researchers are having a tough time. This will affect the quality of research,” he added.
Publication Date: 28 October 2015