Nobel for an Indian?

October 7, 2009

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan has been awarded the chemistry Nobel this year.

He joins a select club of scientists recognised by the Nobel foundation.

But Ramakrishnan joins an even more exclusive group — Indians (by birth) who received such recognition.

The country still awaits a second entry in the most exclusive group — an Indian who gets a Nobel staying and working in India.

So far only C.V. Raman, the founder-member of this club, qualifies.

In the days to come, Indians around the world, especially those in the country, will derive vicarious pleasure from another Indian (at least by birth) earning the top honour.

The Times of India listed India’s Nobel connections on their website, a list which includes British surgeon Ronald Ross and poet Rudyard Kipling — both born in India.

The list stretched to include all categories, as evident from above, contains only 12 names.

Whereas Ramakrishnan is the 13th Nobel prize winner from Cambridge-based MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology alone.

The WolframAlpha search engine returns an estimate of 14,172 patents filed in 2009 for U.S. for the query “U.S. patents filed”.

The comparative figure for China is 2097. For India it returns a figure of 256.

Venkatraman Ramakrishnan took his PhD in physics and gets a Nobel for chemistry while investigating a biological process.

Why has no Indian working in India won a science Nobel since independence?

Is it the lack of multi-disciplinary approach in Indian institutions?

Is it our expenditure on R&D? Or the brain drain?

59 comments

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One reason experimental Indian scientists working in India have not received Nobel prize in the sciences is lack of money – which means ability to purchase expensive equipment, pay good salary for scientists, purchase leading edge journals etc. India should also open its doors to foreign-born scientists like the way Western countries have done for a long time. It is already happening in cricket in the form of IPL cricket. Why not in sciences?. Money talks and can bring the best people from all over the world. Generous funding for science and technology will be the key. But many Indian scientists working in mathematics and other non experimental sciences have won international fame and recognition. Talent is there but not the financial resources to nurture them.

Posted by Pacha Nambi | Report as abusive

Apart from money, there is also the issue of “college formation”. Nobel prize winners and their ilk are an exclusive club and occure in dense clusters. Advanced reseach is exchanged more on telephone and email: by the time it is published, many months have passed and it is old hat. India does not have such school formation – many scientists and lab in pursuit of same/similar goals-and so is less likely to have these people working in India itself.

Posted by Milind Padki | Report as abusive

The major reason is science in Indiais corrupted like the other areas. If youwant to get a job in India as a scientistyou have to marry cnr’s daughter or submit yourselfto his legs. Such people cannot do science.We Indians have no self-respect, I sure Venkatnever got a job in India! Now they are inviting himfor Inspiration..We Indians are very talented andif we can be out of the mental slavery of UK and USIndia can prosper better than any other country.India should be an equal opportunity employer.

Posted by Rao | Report as abusive

The important reasons why our scientists are not able to excel in research when in India are:1. Non availability of world class journals published from India.2. New ideas are not promoted and screened.3. Today the research in a particular field can be done by a person who has attained formal high qualification in that subject whereas many new ideas and research are result of interaction of two or more disciplines.4.Our mind set that quality research takes place in the west only.5.Our universities are not yet well linked to industries so as to get adequate funding and support for the scholars.6.Govt research labs need to rethink and justify the expenses and the results. These labs may invite private participation in research.7. The most important if every state govt and UT give 10 awards each to the scientists for their research and earmark just 10 Crore, our country will have more than 250 awards. These scientists naturally with the money will be able to promote more research and the prize will attract more scholars.8. The central Govt must revise the award amounts in all fields of excellence, specially research and that must be comparable with the best in the world.9. However some initiatives taken by the Govt and the corporate sectors are welcome.10. It is proposed that let all the corporate sectors contribute just 1% of the bonus issued for just one year towards creating a Prizes in the field of excellence in science and other fields. It may be named in the honour of Industrialist who pioneered the promotion of scientific research-viz Jamshed Ji Tata and GD Birla.11. Just one good research made commercial can bring many times the funds invested in the prizes.

Posted by Sadhna Goel | Report as abusive

It is not the brain drain but lack of money and resources which is responsible for not even trying for Nobel.Talented aspirants are there but there is no platform to prove themselves.The basic thing is money.Awareness should be created among the citizens regarding the necessity of such research activities.There should be some tie-ups between the Govt. and private firms (giants like biocon, Cipla,Panacea) for the interest of nation leaving their own likes ,dislikes and interests. Do u agree?

Posted by samsamsam | Report as abusive

Indians in India are themselves to blame for the situation. We have obstacles like bureaucracy, unhealthy competition, inadequate infrastructure and indifferent attitude at the top management of R&D infrastructure. To quote my experience, my visit to the R&D labs at IDPL in Hyderabad in 1991 to collaborate in my research project was rejected by the R&D manager Mr. Tripathi at that time. How does R&D thrive without active collaboration and sharing of resources between academic institutions and Industry? We need to change our mindset. While the government institutions like CISR/ICMR etc. grant financial support, the officials at the local level create a highly discouraging atmosphere through unhealthy competition. We have unlimited talent and monetary resources but they are not nurtured and utilized properly. We are training the best brains in IITs/NITs only to send them abroad becoz we cannot provide the basic means of livelihood/conducive atmosphere for achieving excellence. Inspite of all these drawbacks, we have achieved a great deal in the fields of Space/Atomic Energy/IT etc. We can do and achieve a lot more within the available resources if corruption/nepotism/ etc. are tackled.

I see an aspirtation among Youth for Noble prizes in research. But this aspiration won’t last long among them as the circumstances take shortcut thru different routes. Mostly they are then limited to the organizations, research institutes, teaching institutes which would not provide enough opportunities for them to involve in native R & D. I would request the cream of India (whoever that might be) come and bring awareness among youth and inculcate steps towards brining Home a Nobel.

Posted by Dharma | Report as abusive

?I love the kyaoo marksWhy has no Indian working in India won a science Nobel since independence?Is it the lack of multi-disciplinary approach in Indian institutions?Is it our expenditure on R&D? Or the brain drain?The so many kyaoo marks reflects the lack of skill of reading, logical thinking.Till the date government is stubbornly committed towards creating the worst governance machinery in world, like bapu and chachu, all we will have is riots and genocide of religion, rule of agents of rome and mecca and some unfortunate who are interested in this nation as the original natives.Science can never flourish in a nation where government is dedicated to religion, agents of rome and mecca, in name of secularism, a vulgar term coined by a British Christian Holioke and loved by the slaves.The achievement of india will remain only bapu and chachu who created the worst governance machinery of the world.

Posted by Rohit | Report as abusive

Very thought provoking questions raised. I think it is definitely because of brain drain, and also because as far as i know, professionals have far more oppurtunities and resources abroad.

Posted by r | Report as abusive

One of the major reason is “EXPOSURE”. Indian scientists has less exposure to global environment in comparison with US and European counterparts. This makes them scratchy while presenting their findings (same case in other areas as well) .

Posted by PDK | Report as abusive

Its only the money, the good ‘will’ for our Indian Science—is very much lacking. Sufficient talent is there even in India for experimental Science also—but a Class of Scientific Bureaucracy doesn’t allow the new IDEA or the Young faculty thought to nurture. My fellow friends have talked about the money—-definitely it is true. But whatever it is available–the major chunk is for Scientist’s in Position not for others. You, a younger fellow (Scientist) will get a piece if you work for me not for your new ideas. You will get many ‘AWARDS’ if you are liable to me–whether you are capable or not, whether you have any scientific talent or not. So, friends, even after industrial funds are available, do you think how much will be available for ‘Genius’—-a very little. And the ‘Awards’ will be distributed to ‘Chela’s’ only —sometimes multiple awards—. And many of them after receiving ‘Award’ keep mum and sometimes finds the reason what to say to the others. This is just one of the bad things–there are many other.How long it will continue? Who will take the responsibility to clean our Scientific fund mismanagement? Who will nurture the new and young talent?Please stop the scientific bureaucracy and bring back our Indian Science to new era so that a Nobel comes to our House in next 50 tears.

Nobel prize is from a select group. Unfortunately non of the Indian Institutions are members of this elite class. Possibly if there was a Nobel Prize in Engineering something would have come out of the IITs. Nothing else one can think of

Posted by Rishi K Tewari | Report as abusive

Who says there is no bias in Nobel committee? We are not aware of hidden things that are played at top level.

Posted by Dany | Report as abusive

Its not money or talent. Its the attitude of the scientists working in India. There is always a gap between students and professors in India like you need to fold hands before them, address them as sir etc and bloody heirarchy in the whole system. You don’t find these in the west, so there is very high chance of collaboration and help.Also we lack interdisciplinary attitude like physcists cannot work in biology, biologists cannot work in computers etc. This has to go.Also don’t always look at IIT’s, there are other institutes and universities also. All the IITians do is go to US and get into some investment banks.

Posted by dksr | Report as abusive

Why should we care about nobel prize in the first place, It is an award given by Sweden ( a country of just 9 million people). We are a country of 1000 million ( 1 billion people) and our top honour “Bharat Ratna” must be the top honour for us. We must learn to respect ourselves. We must stop our obsession with foreign awards especially the media.AR Rahman got oscar for his music in “Slumdog Millionaire”, He is really great but I think some of his music in some tamil films are 1000 times better than the music in that English film. So basically it is not the best work which brings you an award but things like your foreign connection and etc,etc.Media must stop sensationalising the foreign awards its obsession with it as we are a nation of 1B people and we should learn to respect our own awards first.

Posted by Raju Cherian | Report as abusive

We have different trend now a day in India. How many of you see a discussion, approach, attitude towards science and technical issues. Entire culture has been shifting towards Bollywood and their associates, worthless TV shows and valueless programmes, modeling. Even music, literature and kids dream get influenced by Bollywood’s cheap style.I see a lot of talented guys from IITs,IIScs join IT sectors after passing out for short cut success with high salary. Until and unless a proper culture is set for academics (Lab, environment, salary, prospect),youths become inclined towards good music, literature, thoughts (Keeping aside bollywood and styles for part times entertainment only not the only source of entertainment) nothing is going to happen. Only Bollywood stars will invade all of India’s Culture.

Posted by Indrasis | Report as abusive

It seems like we cannot expect Nobel from Independent India because we lag far behind rest of the world. If you look at good research labs across the world, the main contribution is from the postdoctoral researchers. These are many a times Indians or Chineese. In India on the other hand its only and ONLY the PhD students. You may find some Prof. abroad working in the bench, but you can never expect the same in India. One thing is the attitude. Indian elite scientist thinks too highly about themselves and the lack of infrastructure yields only less skilled labour. Could we ever stand in comparison to US and Europe? I very much doubt that in next 50 yrs.

Posted by Varghese | Report as abusive

To add to my earlier post, Over my years of observation with Booker prize awards I have learned something,If any south asian can portray their own mother land as a nasty, smelling place with lot of stupid illiterate people in their fictions, they will get booker prize.Instead of making this kind of traitors celebrities, we should put them in Jail ( talking abt people like Arundhadhi Roy and Aravind Adiga)

Posted by Raju Cherian | Report as abusive

Everyone blames the system in India; lack of funds to do anything for not being able to produce world class research in science and medicine. Sure that is a problem, but a bigger problem is the bunch of people occupying senior and decision making positions who are grossly incompetent but have become Heads and decision making people just on the basis of seniority and by knowing someone somewhere.In the west, meritocrisy is awarded by promotions. One becomes an Assistant Professor, Associate professor, Professor and like based on certain minimum papers published in peer reviweed indexed journals with citation index, grants obtained in addition to other criteria that vary from institution to institution. In India, we still follow one criteria- seniority, everything happens through the boss- no matter how he got there or how incompetent he/ she is. The boss deems it his right to be on every paper or anything that is written from the department often taking full credit for work he stole or had nothing to do with. If the actual investigator did not allow this, he would be penalised and his career and stay in the department made miserable. In the west, if one did not contribute anything to the actual study or writing of the paper, one does not claim authorship- no matter how senior.No wonder, so many young and talented people leave. Who wants all this hypocrisy, pulling down, jealousy, backbiting, favouritism not to mention dealing with a bunch of useless and incompetent peers and bosses.

Posted by One who left | Report as abusive

The indian education system does produce the clerks rather than the specialists,so the results are.Since becoming a graduate one needs to study three to five subjects for what to simply get affordable scores for their carrier perspectives,too live a high middle class 9 to 5 life and we do expect for the NOBEL ridiculous!!Please follow the details of the R&D investment compared to any developed countries and then expect any thing.The only thing which can change the india is centralized,common, free and specialized education system……

Posted by mukesh | Report as abusive

I have a Prestige pressure cooker. Every few days, the screw holding the handles to the cooker comes loose and I have to tighten it. Now, what incentive does the R&D department at TTK has to develop a better pressure cooker? A few things – competition, people buying other cookers and most importantly, the acknowledgement that they are doing things the wrong way.Seriously, if you look at your own workplace – whether govt or private – of the 12 hrs one spends in the workplace, how many hours of real work gets done? Maybe 1 or 2 at most.I will start believing India’s chance of raising a homegrown Nobel winner when I see developments towards solving homegrown problems such as development of a malaria vaccine or something as such.

Posted by R Gonda | Report as abusive

The entire Indian science R & D budget equals that of Stanford University (~ USD 2 billion).This is equally good an indicator along with several others which we know to be true.

Posted by Siva | Report as abusive

The Norwegian Nobel Committee (Norwegian: Den norske Nobelkomité) awards the Nobel Peace Prize each year. Its five members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. In the beginning, the committee was filled with active parliamentarians and the annual reports were discussed in parliamentary sessions.These ties to the Norwegian Parliament were later weakened so that the committee became more independent. Accordingly, the name was changed from the Norwegian Nobel Committee to the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament (Norwegian: Det norske Stortings Nobelkomité) in 1901, but changed back in 1977.[6] Now, active parliamentarians cannot sit on the committee, unless they have explicitly stated their intent to step down shortly. Nonetheless, the committee is still comprised mainly of politicians. Content taken from Wikipedia.Now take that for credibility? Again Politicians coming into play for awarding the “bright scientific minds”. No Indian would want one such Award.

Posted by Nani | Report as abusive

The entire Indian science R & D budget equals that of Stanford University (~ USD 2 billion).This is one indicator. But a more important is that in our society cricketers, movie-stars and religious leaders are the “rock-stars” not scholars. As Steve Chu pointed out in China scholars are the “rock stars”. While scientists are not motivated by salaries/personal incentives (though research funding is important), if society values them and expresses this, that could be enough to inspire Nobel quality work within the country.

nothing wrong in indian education system or any-other, simply india can\’t afford the money these guys are getting in cambridge, because india do not have a serious production based economy. simply indians have very big service companies not R&D companies. if you want nobel then you should move from service to R&D type of companies.and even Mr Venki have said, don\’t call him and indian, and don\’t rush to take others fame to stick to your bum. he did something for humanity, that is why he gets nobel

Posted by RAM | Report as abusive

I have one interesting observation to make. There has hardly ever been a human aged less than 40 years to take home the Nobel or the Bharat Ratna for that case. This according to me is one reason why we Indians stop our studies after Graduation. Most of the Indians are smart enough to see the futility of the effort. I think this is what makes us Indians. We dont want to waste our life in pursuit of something that is may or may not fetch us a huge award.

Posted by Nani | Report as abusive

I agree with the post that to get a job in india you have to have a good connection like someone’s relative, or in recent trend phd student of a director, or husband or wife of a director’s phd student. Their criteria is no publication for faculty jobs, selection on the basis of cv only. I really wonder why they call someone indian when he wins a nobel prize. He is not an indian. I would say people have won nobel prizes ( Bhatnagar award) in india and they are happy and then they become head, director whatever they want on the basis of their connection. Can you guys pin point a single name in india who can win a nobel prize no matter how big scientist he in india. See all big names of india they have not published even a single paper in high impact journal, forget about nobel.

Posted by bharat | Report as abusive

In India, scientific profession is not well respected and it’s mainly due to socioeconomic issues. It is unfortunate but it’s true. The only professions that do get attention are the stereotypical and conventional MBA, Computer engineering, etc because these will allow an individual to start earning quickly, get married and settle down with children, etc. Nothing wrong with that but such professions don’t particularly involve a real passion or love for the subject (with all due respect in those fields). Nobel prize in science is given to people who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of the fundamental sciences rather than business, politics, software, etc.

Posted by Naren | Report as abusive

Why Indians did not get Nobel Prize in Science, Literature, or Peace?Just like the diversity in India, the opinion can also be varied. My observation being in the West for half of my life is that there is nothing wrong with Indians or their aspirations. Although Nobel Prize commands global prestige, it is not something to work for, it is not like an Olympic medal. As some one pointed out, we have the Bharat Ratna, Jnanapeeth and other awards, equally competitive (considering over 1 billion people are qualified to aspire!) and prestigious. Although winning a Nobel Prize in the Sciences may require a lot of expenditure in building the infrastructure, some other areas do not require any such thing, for example, the prize in literature. I for one believe there is a clear ignorance in the West about Indian literature, especially those of the the non-English languages. If literary prizes were based objectively like that of Sciences, many Indian writers writing in Indian languages should have won many Nobels. One solution could be effective translation of Indian literatures into Western languages, not the lieterature of those who caricature Indian life exposing only bleak, corrupt and miserable life of Indians, as if they are Mother Theresas, such are those who win Booker prizes. Meanwhile, India is a Universe in itself, let us rejoice the life instead of picking our weaknesses. There is no perfect world.

Posted by Bal Lokeshwar | Report as abusive

There is no need to ponder over reasons.Take any field of human endeavour and point out where INDIA – Bharat – has shown any creativity OR innovation.Just look at any other industrialised Nation – civilisations – and – can you learn anything from them. See if you can even discover how they are different from India.AND what’s more – It is not going to change. The current INDIA is inherently flawed at the most fundamental level that any civilisation can be.Its no good trying to quote to the rest of World that you have 1 Indian who got a Nobel. That is 1 out of a Billion over how many years?For me this is an everyday sad reality.

Hi,I have studied in the best indian schools and I am now in the west. Let me say something why we donot have nobel laureates. It is a completely objective and first hand analysis of the situation.Even in the big schools in India and with the so called big professors, any graduate student can tell you what the profs. do. They are just not interested in pursuing a problem. They are just there to make a publication and lack a coherent approach. To some extent it is right that we lack facilities but this may be like 5 percent of the problem. The rest and greatest is this third rate mindset.Go to any big school in India and see where the kids of these professors are studyin for higher education. In 98% of the cases you will find them studying in foreign schools. Now you may think that these guys will be in MIT or stanford or berkeley. No. They are studying in the second and third rate schools of us, singapore, korea and thailand. Important question:What is it that these professors know about each other that they donot want to have their kids studying in the top schools in india but would happily send them to third rate schools in canada, us, korea etc.What I am saying is really really true. Most professors even in big schools in India would write recommendations for motives other than academics. People employ their own connections, get into one of these schools for a one month internship and get classy recommendations from these so called big profs. in India.You may be tempted to think whow! there recommendations work so highly in the west. These guys must be well known. No. I talked to a professor here in a big grad school in US who serves on admission committee and he said we guys know how recos. are written in India and we donot even look at them with respect!!. Can you believe it!!Please donot be befooled by this lack of facilities complaint. Go and study in some big school in India and see for yourself.

Posted by Per | Report as abusive

This is reflected in all aspects of Indian industries. Even though India is a top destination for software services or generic medicine manufacturing, no money is diverted to R&D by these companies. We Indians happy at making money without any commitment to nation.

Posted by shridhara | Report as abusive

It is better to have brain drain than your brain going down the drain in India

Posted by Ravi chandra | Report as abusive

Indian education system produces (mostly) clerks, not thinkers. Inquiry and innovation are not encouraged or rewarded. We still follow the British system and create obidient servants. When was the last time a “genuine” Indian came up with a unique idea? Yes, India is the top destination for software outsourcing, but it is not Indian, only doing the clerical work.

Posted by Johny | Report as abusive

Although most of the Indians know the answer to this problem, but they don’t want to accept it. Budget granted to the scientific research is also a problem, but not the major one, since one can get grants from international agencies also. The biggest hurdle is the lack of opportunities, which are diverted to the so called “less privileged”, although they have now become “more privileged” then others who are above them ‘in records’. You guessed it right, I am talking of “reservation”. This results in brain drain..Nobody wants to live far off from loved ones, but only to earn bread and butter, they are forced to do so.Another hurdle is “approach” or source or backing, whatever one might call..more strong is your approach, more chances of you to get to the top..Also, when one gets into a government job, he thinks that his days of struggle are over. They do not give their cent per cent to the organisation and thus are way behind others.All of these hurdles result in compromising the quality of personnel, work, research or whatever they are into.Indians are so qualified, that even they give 60% of their efforts to a particular task, they are capable of getting more than 90% done by a western person..I am not being racist, but to tell the truth, Indians are gifted that way..

Posted by Geet | Report as abusive

Money makes a man. Please think about the questions1)Infrastucture- as discussed by many.2)What does a scientist earn in comapred to a IT professional with same education standard?3)Can we attract good students in basic science stream or in research?4)Is it possible in india to get the salary on the basis of work accomplished not based on seniority?5) Does any scientist earn more money who is able to bring more extramural funds thanothers?6)are the educational institutes are politics free?7)Is it ever possible to get a job in India only based on someone’s marit without knowing some BIG names?8)When do we have some time to think about science rather than discussing about Holly/Bolly/Kolly culture, terrorism and Pakistan, China and infiltration, and all other world problems?Give more money to scientists, allow someone to earn as much as he/she can by his/her productivity (not by seniority/race/etc). People all around the WORLD will run for INDIA. Surely, then we can think about NOBEL.

Posted by Reena brown | Report as abusive

most obviously,the lack of infrastructure in terms of endorsement of research,advanced technology,and also the meagre expenditure on R&D.it is thus brain drain is accrued.

Posted by gaurav | Report as abusive

This debate is interesting. Noble prize is a very abstract thing. Finally it all depends on opinions, popularity and media exposure. Many a times, great ideas have been turned down but have resurfaced and held on. The best example is our Mahatma’s principles. While it has been debated for decades now that why he did not win the Nobel, time and again has proved that his principles were path-breaking. Even the US supremeo Obama is a big fan of Gandhi. It just shows that many a great Nobel ideas just fade away and many a fundamental ones run underground and surface more strongly. Its nothing to do with a country, infrastructure or intellect. I am quite sure there are smart and intelligent people even in Afghanistan, who have the potential to win Nobels, if they work for it. But, finally, its what your heart/mind wants. The philosophy of Indian-contentment goes a long way. Sometimes, the same Indians are pushed or induced to become aggressive and prove a thing or two and the result is what we see as once in a while ‘Indian-born’ XYZ winning a coveted award. And finally, all the big industrialists of India can set up a trust which can invoke a prize money larger than Nobel and popularize it to such a great extent that 50-100 years later people around the world should talk more about it than Nobel. The simplest thing that India can do is to have a ‘Mahatma Gandhi Peace Price’ … I am quite sure the popularity comes in more quicker …

Posted by Sreenath | Report as abusive

Add this to the apalling neglect of indipendent critical research in social science and managment studies[where it is nice to ape and bum around with instant noodle recipies] which exist but deliver very little interms of value. You still have russian-stalinist studies specialised academics and those who have worked the bureaucracy. The atmosphere is numbing and very few islands exist. Compare this to other countries. Indians are the most materialist and selfish people, a nice software degree, a good cyber coolie job, a beautiful wife, 2-3 children, a big house and car and the world is made! No body will rememeber the person after he goes. The emphasis is always on marks and memorising. Where will the curiosity to learn and question arise? Without useful economics, sociology with tangible deliverables and a hard core of science India will always be a slave nation, a land of cyber coolies.

Posted by CONCERNED STUDENT | Report as abusive

Actualizing an idea, which can be a gamechanger, is hard. That is what makes it great, otherwise every Tom Dick and Harry will come out with breakthroughs. Success at the top level, where you ar judged by your peers who are the best in the world, generally comes with a huge pricetag, mostly at the personal front. And it requires a drive that is more vertical than horizontal. As a nation, I am skeptical if we have a culture of putting up our lives and our wants for high stakes. As our pop culture (in the media, cinematic or beemed through television) reflects, we are a nation who does not even like to engage in critical thinking, forget about being prepared to pay the required price for high stake rewards. Secondly, we have very low expectations out of ourselves. When being the ‘call center of the world/US’ morphes into ‘India Shining’ slogans, be sure, without any shadow of doubt, we have a long way to go.

Posted by Neel | Report as abusive

I think we Indian people, while we are in India, think,majority of them, if they are successful, they think they are the best in world without comparing themself with others of same credibility. ego is big problem. Definitely R&D is biggest problem,whenever some company wants to bring R& D eg, Dow chemicals, look what happened in Pune. Five or more politicians created problems, asking for money to run it smoothly, but it failed due to lack of cooperation from law and order and politicians.So all frustrated brainy Indians goes to west where their talent is well used and appreciated and rewarded.

Posted by mm | Report as abusive

I believe that besides brain drain the cold govt.approach is responsible for any one to outshine in any field.

Posted by Mahendra Talati | Report as abusive

I am a medical researcher associate at the University of Arizona and of Indian origin. The Indian academia here seem to think that there is a little bit of nationalism involved- research done in the West is more likely to win, similar to publishing papers. Nature rejected papers I wrote at IIS but when I made very minor changes and sent from U of A they published them. I heard that Dr. Faizan Ahmad, who is at a Delhi University I believe, had a very strong shot at the Nobel in Chemistry this year.

Posted by Sunny Ahuja | Report as abusive

I dont think we need to judge ourselves with some western prize …now how many of us “surely know” that slumdog millionare is at most an average bollywood film…Many better films get created every year in Bollywood but then they arent directed by some westerner!….And J. C. Bose is the father of wireless communication (not Marconi) …why he never got a Nobel?

Posted by Pavan | Report as abusive

Really miserable!!! I think, Indian Govt. is responsible for this act and more precisely I would say people in Indian politics. They do not know what does exactly research mean and how to spend money in various sector of research. Many universities and ITTs are lacking huge resources for research, then how can we expect nobel prize from India. Govt. should learn from this incident. They must have to attract good indian people across the world with huge benefits.Not only Govt., while Indian citizen are also responsible. Among of us, very few are dedicated to higher study PhD and further career in fundamental research of science. Most people will go for IT sector, just as an educated labour and work for MNC..This is really brain drain.

Posted by Gurvinder | Report as abusive

It is really interesting to see Indian people discussing and posting comment about Nobel prize than some cricket match or bollywood movie. Now I am coming to the point, question is why Indian scientist don’t win nobel from India and I think the answer can’t be given in one sentence or one reason. There are plenty of reasons as i see it being in a research in India.1)First reason is preference to money than to your contribution to any field. If somebody is earning lakhs of money even by corruption, he’ll be considered as successful in society and relation. MBA and IT are always prefered courses because of money you get and not because you are good at that. Now where is the respect for scientist who might be devoting more time, more energy, more thinking and who is more knowlegable than any of the other profession. Even if you ask a girl, her choice of groom, she would prefer MBA guys over scientist, no matter how much ever knowledgable and great thinker he is. So socio-economic, structure for scientist is not good.2) Second reason is we are not honest to ourselves, to other person or people, to country and to our profession.We are not honest to ourselves bcoz Indian as I see it have too much ego about themselves. Even a clerk in an office will try to show his importance in every way by dilly-dallying things. He/She won’t take it as a profession but will take as a way to show how important he/she is. We are not honest to ourselves and think too much of ourselves.We are not honest to other people as we can take away his/her chance by politics or resources or any other mean even after knowing that other person is better than us.We are not honest to country as we show too much of pseudo patriotism but when it comes to actual contribution, we are much behind. We don’t even mind corruption when it comes to personal benefit even though it might cost country.We are not honest to our profession and think it as a way of earning bread. That is it. Our profession goals finish there and we don’t think the money which we are getting is because we are employed to do a job. This applies more to a govt. job.Science is no different.2)Colonial Yes saab culture.India is full of ‘Yes sir’ culture. You can’t argue with your elder, with your seniors, with your bosses, no matter even if they are wrong. They can spoil your career or make your career. People go up the ladder by licking feet of their superiors who themselves were their by doing that. There is no or hardly merit play any role. You can see people at the highest position who are not even capable of holding any decent job.Science is no different.3) Regionalismwe differentiate people on the basis of the language they speak, on the basis of their state, region etc. If I am a bengali,I’ll prefer Bengali in a job. If I am tamil, I would like to have Tamil in job and so on. Merit can take a walk. We have pre-conceived notion about every person on the basis of color, region,religion, caste and language. We are most racial country in world, I found it hard to deny that.4) BrotherhoodIf a person is at a position where he can employ as many as his relatives even at the cost of quality, he’ll be considered as most respected, most successful person in society and family.5)Political InterferenceIf there is an open position, there will be so many calls from politicians to fill that post with their candidate. It does not matter then wether that candidate is capable or not.6) Hierarchy is non-humane. No respect for fellow human being.Do we respect fellow Indian for just being a human being. Director of an institute will think he is a best in world and will treat his fellow colleagues like dirt. Scientist/professor will do same thing with students. Students will do the same thing with driver, gaurd etc. Why can’t we overlook person’s position. Why can’t a most higher post person can shake hand with guard or safaiwallah. Why can’t we call people by name instead of calling them Sir/madam or all other colonial way.If we would able to remove these things we’ll shine in every walk of life which includes Science also.Thank you for your time to read my comment.

Posted by Naveen | Report as abusive

There are few observations regarding Nobel Science prizes thatare worth noting when we ask why an Indian working in India cannot win one.1) Nobel prizes are generally awarded for experimental research (discovery of a phenomena or development of a technique). Einsteinwon a Nobel for photoelectric effect and not theory of relativity. The highly regarded Stephen Hawking may never win a Nobel.What does this mean for India ? Cutting edge experiments are veryvery expensive. Precision instruments such as electron microscopes, laser diagnostic tools are very expensive. Indianscan not afford many of these. Even Tier 2 and Tier 3 US universities are better equipped than IITs. There are also manyprivate labs like GE R & D, Exxon Research, Bell labs (of the past) which have lead to many innovations. Indian companies rely on foreign collaborations rather than their own labs for making stuff.Indians are usually better at theory and recently computation. Experimental research is also frowned upon in India. There is asomewhat common perception that it involves trial and error withlittle thinking. There is an over emphasis on mathematics (I saythat though it has been my favorite subject always). If you are good at math, you may come up a good alorithm that canallow you to compute more efficiently. Experiments involve hardwork and patience with not many short cuts. Indians’ better mathabilities are not much help here. This is an explanation I came up with for why most Indians do not choose experimental work if they have a choice.2) Nobel prizes these days are awarded for impact. That’s why it takes decades to win a Nobel after the original paper is published. The original work needs to be followed up and promoted in the community. Even if there is a promising idea from one research group, other (better funded) labs can follow up and publish more in the area and in time may come to be regarded as an authority in the area. Unless through collaboration with foreign researchers, Indians are not “active” participants in research community (attending conferences, journal editors etc.). The international visible Indian researchers are actually research managers who are not involved with minute details of research. For example, most Indian university VCs have beenchosen based on academic records. Academic/research experience does not translate into good management ability. Research and management tracks are usually separate in US univs/labs. Indianeeds to do that as well.The best way to encourage basic research in India is tofacilitate easy collaboration especially with those in richercountries. It also would not hurt to some how steer some of our best students into basic research instead of engineering andmedicine. This in turn leads to the inevitable conclusion thatbasic researchers should be better paid.Good research requires good education, money and management. We only have one of these. With improving economy, we may realize the other two in time just like China.

Posted by kalyan | Report as abusive

Wait a minute! Why are you so sensitive about the Nobel prize in science? We are a growing nation and it takes time to compete in such a high level of creativity. Cool down and elect better politicians instead of dynastic leaders. Try to follow your heart when deciding about your life instead of thinking about dowry job! And then stop watching cricket and then stop praying to God all the time..instead, get to the basic, and work! Read what Gita talk about Karma, and do Yoga…I am sure you will get up in the creative scale. Then forget about Nobel being a big prize. What matters is whether you love doing your work or not. Prize does not matter.

Posted by Bikram | Report as abusive

Right on kalyan!I wish that you send all of what you written to the Indian government but they would still,stubbornly,waste billions in weapons or to acquire prestigious foreign brand than to invest in science.Tata industry just wasted 2 billion in order to buy Land rover amid the recession.Yes you right, many Indians lack humility but thank God we have a model of humility,Mahatma Gandhi.in India,Ambition is drive by money and glory, not the advancement of knowledge.I also notice that many young Indians are only interested to the easy money by becoming computer programmer in order to have a house and a wife.Something must be done to help scientific research because sooner or later, all the IT jobs will move to Vietnam because of salary increase in India.What fuel India economy is mostly the well experienced NRI who came with all their knowledge and huge bank account.Younger Indian born lack imagination and strive to survive in a jungle of million competitors.This is not an environment for creativity.In order to boost scientific research and push more youth in that field it will be necessary to restrain the financial pressure and society pressure to get married with a house and a car.

Posted by Pete Goldstein | Report as abusive

Why are we so insistent in re-claiming citizens who have gone away? The phrase, “of Indian origin”, is so irritating and redundant. With his name, of course he is of Indian origin. They never say, Albert Einstein, German of Jewish origin. America does not refer to its citizens as XYZ, of XYZ origin! Do we say Sonia Gandhi, of Italian origin? We never refer to the Gandhi progeny as Rahul/Priyanka of Indo-Italian origin. I had to go through the same hypocritical attitude with Kalpana Chawla and the chap who won some state election in the US – he is the first governor of, hold your breath, Indian origin to hold office. Arnie is never referred to as “our popular Governor of California, a man of Austrian origin”. Or the Kennedys – of Irish origin. Such idiots we have. We never give any encouragement or facilities to the great minds of our time but jealously claim parentage when another nation not only gives them endless opprtunities to realise their potential, but also rewards them for their efforts. Come on, Shri Krishna is called Yashoda’s Kanhaiyya, not Devaki’s.

Posted by ms | Report as abusive

When a scientist is hired in India he see thered carpet. There are three phases for a scientistin India which is very common among others.1) Honeymoon period (most scientists enjoy their life once you have a God Father in Science, It is very much true in India. Government should do something about this.)2) Adoption period (Understand the system , keep your profile low, ‘dog eating dog world: BE THE FASTEST and FURIOUS’ for survive: for funding, for research students, for recognition, basic utilities, support, etc.,) For some scientist there are 10-50 students across the country (~8 students registered in each university, and in their life cycle they complete the research with the help of at least 100-200 students / researchers, and claim the ‘power’.. it is not equal. Then people ‘stamp’ them as ‘Talent attract students’ of course the door (equal opportunities should be given) also should be opened for other scientists. Sometime the heads of department hire ‘their favorites and start growing them for their own survival’. It is there in every one’s heart, but no way to express. These information is not baseless. We need several APJs with power in the same seat, to inspire and support the scientists. Obama releasing 5 billion USD for medical research. If same amount is allocated in India, I am sure it would be ‘fetched’ by the ‘favorites and famous people rather than ‘deserving and contributing scientists’. I am waiting to see today’s DG’s of funding agencies (DST, DBT, CSIR, DAE, DST, ISRO, DRDO etc,) directors of national labs and academic institutions like IITs, IISc, IISERs, NICERS etc., in the 2020 list of Noble Winners.. I can predict right now none of them would really make it! and also I am sure next 10 years who would be in that seat would never make it.. then why should they support SCIENCE in INDIA? This is the Ego which keep the country’s scientist still slaves long after independence.Long live India.. Let us celebrate the success of at least few Indian origins who survive for science getting the best of everything what they deserve!

Posted by slumdog scientist | Report as abusive

So Mr Kalyan, we Indians excel in mathematics. OK! then why there isn’t even a single Field Medal winner from india ‘great india’?

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

I am a researcher by choice, I work in mount sinai medical centre, New York. I am one of those very few Indian fools who rejected both free or merit -medical and engineering seats and joined classical bioligy degree to persue research. I was the topper in my 12 class batch. Rest of my friends who scored less than me joined medical and engineering courses, and have very secured lifes. Iam in this field because I enjoy research. But look at my state today when all my friend have secured bank balance, untill recently I was struggling hard to keep up my family needs in India, I am forced to leave India because i neither have appropriate research oppurtunity nor pay to survive. I have desuaded many students from coming to research if they are not very ready to suffer or if they are not going to enjoy it. why will any body think about research when one is struggling hard to meet ends? please provide us , if not good, some descent renumeration so that we can compeletely concentrate on research rathe rather than worry about survival. A typical India research student spends 14-16 hours on research per day with little time for family.I completely agree with lot of you people .the major problem with our science is got to do with our attitude which is evident in all other fields.Science is a sacred profession (pursuit of truth). why do you need hierarchy? the hierarachy kils freedom of expression and results supression of truth.why do you need reservations in the scientific oppointments, at least in this field cant you think about merrit. Its all about intelligence and capability, please keep only this as criteria for selection. dont bring regionalism , loyality meter and other considerations(normally used in politics) for scientific appointments.Govt of India is pumping lot of money into research in the recent past, but unfortunately you have the same old people with same old capabilities managing it how can money alone make difference?same old criterias are used for appiontments.I know lot of good researchers with very good achivements ready to come back to India, but they hardly get a chance instead the Indian Institutions are flooded by incompetent people who have contacts in these institutions. How will Indian science improve?More over make this profession performanced based. give incentives based on performance.In many institutions scientist position is just another govt job. once into it nobody can remove them whether they perform or not. Its not so in the outside world. In Singapore and Tiwan a scientist gets monetary packages for evry publication based on its impact and relevance. if you dont publish in couple of years you loose your jobIn US most of the scientist generate a part of their salaries. No scientific positions are permanent, you perform or perish.unless such measures are in place no body will do good science in India.Dont blame brain drain, why dont we create minimal needs for those who wnat to come back to India. There are lot of Indian researchers who want to do good research in India, give them a good environment to do it. then in due course of time, may be the next generation scientists will be able to produce Nobles..there is not quqlit ycontrol in India to recruit scientists.

Posted by chandra | Report as abusive

Congratulations to the Indian people. Last year when I had car-scans an Indian physician, in India, interpreted the results. When I require tech support, the most helpful advisors are working from India and, incidently, speak the clearest English. My local convenience store is owned and operated by Indians. The cultures of India have come to symbolize family values, high moral standards, a high work ethic and commitment to learning. The world’s largest democracy is having a positive effect throughout the world.

Posted by Roy C. Klopfenstein | Report as abusive

Well, I may sound like an odd duck amongst doves but I have little or no empathy for Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, notwithstanding the Nobel which he couldn’t, in all probabilities have won residing and working in India.All of those who have made it big outside India have gone there chasing greener pastures and at least some have left the country, whenever they did so, feeling unbelonging, disconnected.While we celebrate their Nobel or other achievements here, they are making merry, caring a damn for the country they left behind. Probably some of them must be laughing at the plight, perpetual poverty and corruption saying down here that they left for good.In contrast, it’s great to live here fighting or even losing all social evils. You achieve or not, at least you didn’t leave the country like a coward does.

I think people have dissected the reasons well enough.To answer the guy who said why haven’t Indians won the Field’s medal there are Indians who have won the Abel/ Godel prizes which are also awarded to mathematicians. How many news channels covered this information?To summarize,1. Science is not a viable career in India.2. Also, in India people enter into fields for a career whereas abroad people enter it due to their interests. So, its quite obvious the smarter ones make for well paying fields like engineering and mgmt. Many of the people who are brilliant in math and physics are wasting their time in engg colleges in India. They should be identified and provided support. Unless one does what he loves one can’t excel! Passion can’t be inculcated it has be pour forth.3. Overhaul the education system stifles innovation and creativity. It teaches people to conform rather than buck the system. Ramanujan was a math genius yet the system flunked him as he didnt clear the other subjects. If Hardy hadn’t found him he would died in abject poverty and obscurity. If a person is a genius in science he should be allowed to skip all other subjects and pursue only science and still get a degree. Shows we haven’t learned a damn thing since Ramanujan. Genius is seldom seen lets encourage it.

Posted by Harish | Report as abusive

Value is created by investing in fundamental research, ideas incubation and product development. All these need long term focus. Most of the Indian commercial endeavor is in quick rewarding Asset Creation and governmental endeavor to manage hand-to-mouth existence. It is heartening that Indian parents do invest in their kids’ education, but unfortunately these kids are under severe pressure to start earning big bucks, as early in their career as possible. Pursuing excellence is never considered very rewarding.India is the biggest new convert to Materialism. Indian Middle class focus on materialistic, financially secured life is perhaps the strongest among all geographic groups, competing with China

Posted by Sankar | Report as abusive

From misspelling “Deepavali” (“Diwali”) to glamourizing AK 47 wielding vigilantes and desperadoes is a short, slippery slide that offers little time for more complex matters like building a curriculum that takes full advantage of the genius (ancient only) of India.Let us face it. India’s servant seeking elite detests originality.The middle class unabashedly thrashes the Mahatma and is clueless whether it is coming or going.So…India’s insular, necrophilous oligarchy had encountered – shot dead in cold blood – 19 year old Ishrat Jehan on idiotic dribbles.And the Prime Minister’s Office is being quiet as a mouse about the impeccable evidence it has on the corrupt, duplicitous and psychotic conduct of the Government of India, the Government Of Andhra Pradesh, The Indian editorial class, the administrators of the Right To Information Act, The Andhra Pradesh High Court and a fellow travelling klatch of “human rights” ngos.Welcome to yet another “conspiracy in corruption” .This is a documented account of the schizophrenic character of the babulog ke babalog who have formed themselves into the ruling class of India.This is a story of the most appalling illiberality and destructiveness that India’s editorial class will not report !sathyagraha.blogspot.comDivakar’s Sathyagraha – News and views from Divakar S Natarajan’s, “no excuses”, ultra peaceful, non partisan, individual sathyagraha against corruption and for the idea of the rule of law in India.Now in its 18th year.Any struggle against a predatory authority is humanity’s struggle to honour the gift of life.

As said earlier, scientists are also human being, they need good salary for their safety and fun and they need big research grant. The day India govt will do this (remember moneywise it’s big, comparable to the industrialised countries), I bet, within 10 years from then, India will get it’s own noble.

Posted by A Sarkar | Report as abusive