The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Cash & industry stint lure for scientists

Calcutta/New Delhi, Sept. 29: The government will allow its research scientists five-year leave to work in the private sector to try and stop them from leaving for these higher-paid jobs for good.

Also, if a government scientist’s work leads to intellectual property rights (IPR), he will be paid 30 per cent of the money accruing from it as well as 30 per cent of the royalty fees, the Union science and technology minister said in Calcutta today.

The scientists who leave to work in private-sector research laboratories must return after five years, but “within this period, they will be able to work at industry salary and there will be no restrictions”, Kapil Sibal said.

“Wherever research publicly funded by (government) universities or (research) organisations leads to the creation of IPR, not less than 30 per cent of the licence money earned would have to go to the original creator of the IPR,” the minister told the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The scientists will also be entitled to not less than 30 per cent of the royalty fees.”

Senior scientists said the scheme may be an attempt to expand to other state- run science institutions certain policies already in place at the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The proposal for a five-year leave, though, is a new idea, they said.

The CSIR’s 40 laboratories have a “mobility scheme” that allows researchers to move to industry for short periods. CSIR scientists can also keep 60 per cent of funds earned through consultancy and 15 per cent through transfer of technologies or intellectual property.

Some academic centres such as the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, allow scientists up to three years’ leave, but only to set up their own company and not to work for industry.

The new scheme, however, is likely to generate concern that industry, including multinational research corporations, might exploit human resources developed and trained over the years by government institutions.

State-run centres such as the Indian Space Research Organisation already face a shortage of talent, a director of a national laboratory said.

Sibal, however, said pay packets and financial incentives were not the solution to all problems.

He said public funding of research and development in India compared well with that in the developed world but the private sector was not doing enough.

Of the $224 billion the US spends on R&D, only 40 per cent is publicly funded, he said, whereas the figure is 75 per cent in India.

Research and development make up 0.8 per cent of India’s gross domestic product, of which 0.6 per cent is publicly funded.

Sibal, the Prime Minister’s point man on the Indo-US nuclear deal, added that nuclear energy was “inevitable” and was one of the alternative sources of energy that India must look at.

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