Letters

Dismal state of Indian science

| Updated on January 20, 2011 Published on January 20, 2011

The article is timely and thought provoking. A few years ago, an Indian professor working in an American university shared with me the following episode.

A bunch of bright engineering graduates from India applied for financial assistance to pursue a master's degree programme in one of the reputed universities in the US, known for its academic excellence. The grants committee had limited financial resources and had, therefore, to be selective in awarding the assistantships. The committee decided to test the engineering skills of these applicants (the stream was mechanical engineering) and gave them a drawing, and access to stores material and workshops, and asked them to come up with a prototype, based on the drawing.

These students had passed out with distinctions from well-known colleges in India. Even after a week, they could not come up with a single perfect prototype model, despite working collectively. The committee concluded that, notwithstanding excellent grades, the Indian students were incapable of translating the theory they had absorbed into practice.

The committee awarded the assistantships to a few selected aspirants from Taiwan, China and the US, who not only made perfect models but also made them independently.

Polytechnics were started almost at the same time in India and China. China made the best use of this technical infrastructure and has emerged as the global manufacturing hub, whereas in India, the manufacturing sector lags in many aspects.

Unless we learn to apply theoretical knowledge and achieve expected outcomes, excellence in technical education will remain a distant dream. And, of course, the brain drain will continue.

C. Subramanya

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Published on January 20, 2011
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