Doing good research and producing cutting edge technology is really a nightmare in India. DRDO, ISRO and DAE have defied the ground conditions, again and again.
I had come across an article with a interesting heading in Times of India Web-page. After going through the first few lines I was pretty sure that the author did not have an idea of basic ground realities.
Producing technology involves people with a very strong foundation in sciences. The realization of sciences is through technology. It is very unfortunate that most of the people here in India, even those in respectable positions do not understand the difference between the two and the impact each has on the other.
The western world has been successful because they have understood the “Scientific Creed” and are always trying to evolve them, even when the evolution is pointing in the wrong direction. On the other hand, we have always fallen behind by trying to mimic their methodologies and research strategies without understanding them. A casual look at the academic rankings of world universities shows where we as a country stand in producing scientific knowledge.
As of today, all you find are students with a flashy mark-sheet, very eager to get a five-figure salary and wanting to go on a foreign trip at the company’s expense.
If we happen to look at an engineering student who has finished his/her M.Tech in Computer-Science, they are not in a position to write a 200 line code in C language. Similarly, an M.Tech student in signal processing is unable to understand the fundamental “Discrete Fourier Transform”, so is the case with an M.Tech student in VLSI design. He is not able to produce a simple hardware module in Hardware Description Language, that works in sync with other modules. Let’s assume that, for some reason or other the students are not in a position to do the above-mentioned tasks, even their teachers are unable to do them.
Let’s not talk about the basic science stream in India, Students taking these courses are left-overs from engineering admissions.
If this is the current level of standard in Indian Education system, how can we expect to develop cutting edge technology in India? IIT’s are not silver bullets for everything, also these are not exceptionally brilliant from others.
Unless or until you have bright enthusiastic students out of college with a firm grounding in knowledge you cannot do anything in the area of technology. As of today, all you find are students with a flashy mark-sheet, very eager to get a five-figure salary and wanting to go on a foreign trip at the company’s expense.
If you happen to look at Research, I believe we are a laughing stock. By the way, people in India take up research, just to become Head of Department or Principal of a college. The current guides who are supervising research don’t understand the fundamental difference between “Qualitative & Quantitative research”. The only guiding principle in conducting research is ‘Novelty’. Nothing can be more naive than this understanding of the research.
The last director of ADA Sri Cmde CD Balaji after hanging his boots at ADA has become Chairman for Center of excellence in aerospace and defence, that trains young engineers through a design life cycle of aircraft, such facility is not available within the country
Those who want to negate my argument should look at the publishing done by research scholars and the number of citations that these publications get. Citations can be a tricky issue as institutions, colleges have issued a strict advisory to, refer to their colleague’s and their own papers to increase the citation count.
Doing good research and producing cutting edge technology is really a nightmare in India. Some institutions that have defied the ground conditions, again and again, are DRDO, ISRO and DAE.
There are many technologies that India has mastered in the area of Defense, the most notable among it is the technology to build ‘Combat Aircraft’. I have also heard verbally from Sri PS Subramanyam, former director of ADA that LCA-Tejas program is the most expensive program taken by India.
I still have vivid memories of a seminar that I attended in the year 2003 at the Administrative Staff College of India, given by Dr Kota Harinarayana, the father of LCA-Tejas. Throughout the seminar Dr.Harinarayana was emphasizing on how an LCA could help in bringing high technology to Indian industry and how it could necessitate the need for producing good research in the country. The senior babus at the seminar missed this message and had chided him for doing a futile exercise and wasting the country’s money when something better is available from Russians.
His successors at ADA were equally charismatic, I was very much impressed when I read an article about Sri PS Subramanyam which mentioned that, he was working throughout the year including on Sundays and holidays during his tenure as director of ADA, which was for about 10 years.
Nothing can be more inspirational for the nation on scientific and engineering side.
Sometimes these people had to work outside the country to get requisite technology to the country, whereas the universities should have done this job. I have seen many scientists at DRDO, who, even after retirement are working on full throttle. I have seen them taking teaching positions, encouraging Startups and motivating young people. All the former directors of ADA are in this group. The last director of ADA Sri Cmde CD Balaji after hanging his boots at ADA has become Chairman for Center of excellence in aerospace and defence, that trains young engineers through a design life cycle of aircraft, such facility is not available within the country.
Finally, I had gone through the blog of the author who was very critical of Indian aeronautical program, I couldn’t believe myself when I read “ As an effort to kill time one fine day I decided to write a science column, more for my personal amusement than to attract readers”. This is nothing but a debauch activity for science, for science is not for amusement nor does it intend to attract people.
It is an ‘undetermined system’, which has fewer equations and more unknowns. In the development of Tejas, everything is unknown. If you happen to speak to developers of Tejas, all they have is uncertainty and only uncertainty. Yet they have crafted an aircraft that is best suited to Indian Conditions (Interest shown by some countries in the aircraft is a testimony of its technical prowess). In the words of security analyst Bharat Karnad, “Tejas has been flying without a single incident – a record unsurpassed by any combat aircraft under development, anywhere any time”. Nothing can be more inspirational for the nation on scientific and engineering side. Tejas proves a point to the world that Indians can take up complex engineering feat, and this message must be shown in everything that we take up viz. in terms of software, aerospace, engineering etc.
Finally, developers of Tejas can be seen as best icons for scientists, engineers & technologists, and yet want to remain out of the limelight.
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.
 While we must welcome Rafale, IITs, HAL & DRDO must be asked why we had to buy it Oct 9, 2019, Timesofindia.indiatimes.com
 ShanghaiRanking’s Academic Ranking of World Universities 2019 Press Release Aug 15, 2019, ShanghaiRanking.com