|Indian students fare better in the sciences and maths
Indian students in US universities fared better in the sciences and maths, particularly problem solving and analytical thinking, than their US counterparts, according to a recent survey conducted at American universities.
And here lies the irony. Discouraged by the lack of proper technology, latest research facilities and funds in India, these students have chosen intellectual exile and adopted the West as their home. We should be ashamed of this mass export of our brighter students. And itís time that the government wakes up to this reality. Its attitude leaves a lot to be desired. Politicians may attribute their inability to do anything to the lack of cash. They may even blame the people for their lack of interest.
But these arguments donít hold water. The Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) have shown the way. They have grown from strength to strength and are now even confident of opening branches overseas. If the IIMs can do this, what prevents the government from setting up science institutes overseas'
However, merely blaming the government wonít do. Academicians, individuals and even the media must share the dream of popularising science. For example, the planetarium and childrenís museum in Calcutta are testimony to the Birlasí initiatives in fostering a scientific mindset, especially among the young. If the Birlas can do this, why canít others'
The popular media, to some extent, should also share the blame. In the late 1980s, Doordarshan started a UGC Presents series, which boasted of a large viewership, especially among students. Inspired by Carl Saganís Cosmos, Prof. Jayant Narlikarís 17-part serial Brahmand (the Universe) in Hindi was screened by Doordarshan in 1995. Back then, the electronic media were trying to popularise science. But that soon stopped. These days, the Discovery, History Channel and Animal Planet channels cater to science buffs.
Unfortunately, however, the programmes on these channels are aimed at a foreign audience rather than at Indians. Can we please have some popular science programmes aimed at Indians'
In short, itís time we shed our intellectual apathy. We need to concentrate on developing scientific education and research in India that is on a par with the best in the world.
This is only possible when the government forges a unity with the media, industry, academicians and other organisations in this regard. Then, and only then, can we hope to check and even reverse this brain drain.