|Kamat Memorial Volume||.|
Letter to Editor
A Scientists' Sad Story
A lot of controversy is going on the topic "Scientists in India" and you have published many letters on the subject. I have a doctorate from the State University of New York and wish to enlighten your readers with my story.
I was about to complete my studies when the UPSC sent a high official to persuade Indian scientists to return to India. I was interviewed in 1965 in New York for a high post and was informed that I would be taken up on a suitable job upon return to India. (Later on we understood that the official's main purpose was to visit his daughter studying in USA at the expense of the Government). Along with others I spurned lucrative jobs (then available) in the USA.
However, no employment was forthcoming in India upon return. After much correspondence CSIR appointed me as a Scientific Pool Officer and loaned my services to the Udaipur University in Rajasthan (my specialty was Forestry, and we all know how much forest there is in Rajasthan). While I was with the Udaipur University, two teaching positions were vacant, and the authorities informed CSIR that I would be absorbed by the University. Hence the CSIR allowed me to continue in the post for thirty-three months. But the politicians inside and outside the University saw to it that these posts were not filled as long as I was with them, by postponing and canceling interviews and appointments.
While I was in the Pool, I applied for all the job posts suggested by the CSIR all over India, as also for others that were advertised in the newspapers. The advertisements are merely a facade put up to appoint their own nominees. The scientist prepares the job application in so many duplicates with all the certificates attached; then travels at his own cost and comes back. Once the time limit given for the interview was so short, that I had to travel by air from Jaipur to Bangalore. The interviews were very interesting, though they ultimately spelt misery for me. The interview committee pretends to judge my scientific abilities within fifteen minutes. The first four minutes are spent in narrating my educational qualifications; the next five minutes on answering questions which have no relevance to the post, and the remaining minutes are spent discussing the candidate's caste, and what would he do if he is not appointed, and such inane topics. In one interview in Delhi, I was asked if I was a Lingayat (a prominent community in South India)! The questioner was a Minister of Legislature, now elected on secular and anti-caste sentiments! Needless to say that such inquiries jarred my ears attuned to secular talk in the free society of Europe and America. In another interview I was offered an alternate post than what I had applied, but later the post was re-advertised on the insistence of a politician and was filled by a candidate from his state. It is not uncommon for the committee members to ask questions for which they themselves have no answers. In one case the Registrar was absent during the interview, and the remaining members of the selection team thereof were innocent of higher science. Finally, I could get only a temporary appointment to work in a PL 480 finance project. I had to resign from the post after twelve months of service as the project was about to be closed and new projects were not cleared by the ICAR.
I did not commit suicide like Dr. Shah, but opted for a daily death for the sake of my family. I am now self-employed after bidding good-bye to an academic career, scientific, scientific training and research aptitudes.
It is evident that the politicians have corrupted all the fountains of learning, research, and academic appointments. I have no doubt that undue influence was brought to bear on the appointing authorities by some interested politicians in Dr. Shah's case, and now they are after Dr. Swaminathan's blood; some scapegoat is required to mollify public opinion. But public memory is short. The report will be filled as usual and the beauracratic caravan will pass on.
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