Government has some critical priorities to draw up!

Prime Minister at the 104th Indian Science Congress! What he said at the session was very uninspiring!

modi3-1024x620The Prime Minister of India as a tradition usually participates at the annual Indian Science Congress session. This year the Congress drew a reported 11,000 scientists and also six Nobel Prize winners. Usually on such a momentous occasion the PM as the supreme authority comes out with some new reforms or announces some new science and technology policies. This year we saw no such momentous announcements.

The PM called for reaching out to the schools and colleges and the labs and scientists must share their new ideas and discoveries with the students outside these campuses in a hub and spoke model, said the PM.Anything great about this!

Sciences and technologies are growing fast and even the PM noted that India would become soon as the sixth largest ST hub. Fine. But then there are much more challenging things happening not just in India but also elsewhere. China and other countries, why even the top universities in Asia, from Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are turning out research papers in a more fundamental way. There are any number of such measurements, ranking the universities and we must all feel inspired and why even concerned about the Indian universities rankings being so poor.

The PM must have dealt with universities in India and how much we have progressed, more so after the BJP had come to power and what is happening in higher education in India.

The Niti Aayog for instance has announced setting up of some 20 or more universities under a new plan and they are supposed to be model universities. The PM unfortunately didn’t touch such weighty subjects. Nor he had mentioned the very status of universities in India nor did he speak about what the so called Central universities are doing. In fact, the Indian universities are plagued with almost, if we can say so, steady decline in standards. As elsewhere, there are large vacancies like VCs and other higher academic posts lying unfilled for a long time. Even in TN, the deterioration in the functioning of state universities are very deplorable that every day we hear of wrong doings in the universities. To cite one example that soon after the AIADMK party changed with a new general secretary of the party, even before that, some 12 universities vice chancellors and registrars called on the likely new general secretary in what was described as a courtesy call.

In fact, there were much deeper malaise in such a move, pointed out by a prominent Opposition party leader, a qualified medical doctor and a former Union minister. He must know the truths of high corruption even in securing the VC post through such political meddling! Names were given out and even a long petition was sent to the state Governor who is technically the Chancellor of the universities. This sort of direct high profile politicization of the university administration tells a lot about the fall of higher education in the country.

The PM must have come to the Science Congress well-prepared and there is nothing wrong if the PM had taken the distinguished scientists from far and near and even from abroad to share their own wisdom and experiences to raise the standards of sciences teaching and also how the very many frontier technologies are impacting the lives and activities of the common people.

Even such topical issues like the election of Donald Trump in the USA and the on-going concerns over the US visas and also the domestic IT industry concerns could have been debated on the high profile Science Congress platform. The new techs like automation and artificial intelligence are having a great impact and the anxieties expressed by the industry captains like Infosys Sikka and Wipro Premji all would have made the high profile meet very fruitful for government science policy making.

The issues are so impressive and they would have caught the minds and hearts of thousands of IT professionals, young, dynamic and the same time very much a timely current debating issues.

Anyway, in spite of these issues, the other event that caught was conferring honor upon the Hyderabad VC whose term saw the university student in a controversy over the university autonomy and students’ freedoms. Free discussion and exchange of views always helps.

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