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PGT: When will India shed its image as a developing country
PGT: Dr Mashelkar, as Indian scientists are being called on to enlarge their constituency, are we seeing the recognition, or the system of rewards & incentives that have been given to the scientific community, has that system improved?
RAM: I dont think so. As a matter of fact I dont mind saying that scientists are very poorly paid, and also, I do believe that the system of rewards and incentives that in place, excepting individual efforts of the kind that you talked about, are very poor. I mean, we do have the Bhatnagar prizes, CSIR gives, which are again for individual efforts, but for team efforts, for those scientists who have created wealth out of their knowledge, who have generated not only knowledge but usable knowledge, I do not think there are adequate systems. That is why within CSIR, as you have said, here, your salaries may not go up but your income can go up, and that income is derived from the wealth that you have created after you have transferred your technologies, because if science leads to technology, technology to business, business to wealth, then scientist has every right to get part of that wealth, but only those who create that wealth. So we now have systems by which they share royalties, premia, receive consultancies and so on. I do believe that the process of these rewards and incentives has just begun. But, if you look at, overall, the salary structures, perks, pats on the back if you like, the value systems in society, the way they look at scientists, I do not think we are anywhere where we need to be.
PGT: And this must undoubtedly be an important reason why the bulk of our students from premier engineering institutions and medical colleges invariably leave for greener pastures.
RAM: Well, I would say that there are two factors. One, is the sheer economic factor, which is a very strong driving force, let us not make a mistake about that. But you know, there is another factor, the very fact that many of us are here, in spite of all those other offers and all those other temptations, implies that if we are given a stimulation, a challenge, an intellectually stimulating environment in which we can grow, then people do stay.