Qualified Indians Continue to Go Abroad, Scientists Want Modi Govt to Make a Move to Stop This ‘Brain Drain’July 04, 2019 06:04
As scores of qualified Indians continue to move abroad, the country’s generation-next scientists have called on the Indian government to take immediate steps to stop this ''brain drain''.
Scientists also said that increasing funding for research could help curb this phenomenon and hoped that the Narendra Modi government's budget on Friday will take steps in that direction.
The urge was put forward at the 69th Lindau Nobel Laureates, where the scientists discussed their expectations from the budget and their views on the current situation of scientific research in the country.
While most of them said that they expected increased funding for research, many also expressed their grouse with recent "scientific claims" by the government that has "no basis in science".
"I hope that the upcoming budget has more funding for research than last year or at least not reduce it. For a country of the second largest population in the world, we have many talented and brilliant people who can contribute to the world of science," said Jalpa Soni, Marie Curie Post Doctoral fellow University of Gothenburg Sweden.
Soni is a part of a strong contingent of 44 young Indian and Indian origin scientists who have gathered on the banks of the Lake Constance for extensive discussions with 39 Nobel Laureates from around the world to share their vision.
"The biggest issue for research in India is lack of funding. Indians are great with ideas, especially in achieving goals in an easier and cheaper way, exemplary of which are our space programs," said Sounak Mukherjee, a researcher at Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) Kolkata.
Mukherjee, however, added that the government is focused on promoting technological fields, but not basic science. "An overall lack of awareness of science makes our political leaders ignore climate change or be obsessed with fictional claims about Vedic Science," said Mukherjee.
Swastika Banerjee, a postdoctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego, said that focus should be on actual research and not claims about what occurred in the past.
"Research is very dynamic so we should always innovate and find new ideas rather than just borrowing from the past," said Banerjee.
Meanwhile, Mukherjee noted that unless the focus goes into fundamental research in this modern era, India would suffer more of "brain drain".
Brain drain largely takes place due to the migration of highly-trained personnel in search of the better standards of research and higher salaries, and access to advanced technology and more stable political conditions in different places worldwide.
"The so-called brain drain significantly decreases the quality of research with the brightest minds going abroad for research where they have more work satisfaction as well as financial satisfaction," Mukherjee said.
"There are various schemes in the government to attract young scientists, but because of political scams and without proper administrative support, they go into vain. I would expect the Indian Government to take more initiatives to support basic science for the future of young scientists and for the progress of the nation," he added.
According to a 2015 report by the United States National Science Foundation, migration of Indian scientists and engineers to the U.S. increased by 85 percent in 10 years since 2003.
India was the top country of birth for immigrant scientists and engineers, with 9,50,000 out of Asia’s total 2.96 million, the report said.
"I expect more support from the government for basic science and not just engineering. It will be nice to see more money and more infrastructure being built and at the same time, the govt should make new policies," Lakshmi Balakrishnan, who is pursuing PH.D. in Paris, France told.
She believes that the government should consult the young scientists and not just senior scientists while formulating research policies.
"One way to reduce, if not stop, the brain drain should be to provide quality infrastructure to encourage people to come back," she said, adding that religious claims should be backed by scientific evidence before they are popularized.
By Sowmya Sangam