It was over dinner that a few doctoral students revealed us the reasons for the lack of scientific temper among the youth of today. They were all pursuing Ph.D in bio-technology in Universities in North India.
The conversation started with the simple question if the distinguished fellows were at the Indian Science Congress to present papers. ``It will take twenty years for us,'' the reply shot back from one of those girls. All their professors were presenting papers, of course.
The girls, and the one boy, were highly respectful of their professors. ``Without them we are nowhere,'' they said very clearly. They were not presenting papers but were putting up posters. I am not sure what poster presentation could Ph.Ds in bio-technology make.
Inspite of the highest degree in a high-end technology, the girls were not sure of a career in the nation. ``The companies start with a salary of 25 k. Which is nothing but stupid,'' said the girl from Delhi university. That's what a fresh eng. grad gets in an IT company.
Not many of them were interested in moving out. They all liked this country and want to stay back. But will they? It is likely that they, even if reluctantly, move out for greener pastures. Because there are neither the labs, both public and private, to put their knowledge into practise nor a rewarding system in place.
We still can boast and believe in that the next R&D hub of the world is India. Leaving the professional aspect, the highly matured girls said they have to counter personal problems like late marriage. ``By the time you finish doctorate, you feel you are too wise to marry,'' said the girl from Patiala.
The question is: ``Why is it that it always takes at least 4 years for a Ph.D in India?'' In my mind, not many academicians have looked at this simple question. We still have a system in which a student has to go to college for a decade to obtain a doctorate in any discipline.
At least these girls were priviledged to have good professors. There are thousands of girls tortured by the very learned men guiding them in their thesis in this very same nation that often proudly states that it respects women very highly.
Back to the point. If research in life science is gonna be the key to future, including the markets, what do we have to keep these girls who wanna live here. The scientists are there. Only the system is not there.
If the problem can be identified over dinner in a sultry southern town, then it can also be simple to set the system right. I am not sure how many dinners it will take. Or may be, we may just be happy eating dinners.