The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Singh tells a Stalin story

New Delhi, May 17: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today invoked Stalin to urge military scientists not to add to brain drain and be lured by the pleasures of working in the West.

Maybe it is the Left’s influence on his government or just an urge to deliver his message in a forthright manner, Singh quoted the late Soviet leader despite the fact that ' as he himself said ' “it is no longer fashionable these days”.

But he never breathed the word “Siberia”.

“When I was a student at the University of Cambridge, some 50 years ago,” he told an audience comprising distinguished researchers and heads of military establishments, “I heard a story which relates to the very famous Russian nuclear scientist Kapitza, who was working at that time, in the early 20s, in the Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge.”

The Prime Minister had just given away awards to scientists of the Defence Research and Development Organisation that is often hard put to attract bright students and, having attracted them, retain the talent.

Continuing with his story, Singh said he had heard in Cambridge that Kapitza went home to Russia in the 1920s. By then the revolution had taken place and he was soon taken prisoner.

“He was taken before Stalin and he asked Stalin angrily ‘why am I kept here' What am I supposed to do' Here is a country that does not provide any laboratory facilities. There is great shortage of equipment for me to function as a scientist’ and, although it is no longer fashionable to quote Stalin these days, Stalin did say a remarkable thing.

“He (Stalin) said ‘my dear young man, we are short of money, and that’s why we need to use our brains more effectively’.”

Having quoted the Soviet leader, Singh urged Indian scientists to draw lessons from that incident. “So research and development in our country has to, at times, substitute for capital,” he said.

“India is a country of great complexity, great diversity, and by international standards we are a poor country. And, therefore, it goes without saying that we must make use of all the brainpower that we have in our country to, at times, save capital and equipment.”

Email This Page