With universities in research-active nations, including China, switching over to the "star system" - where for leading academics salaries and research funding are allowed to rise to match productivity - there is no choice for India.
Our government has to allow pockets of excellence to emerge and to allow them to bid for the best researchers.
Most current academics will tell you that the salary was of little consequence in their choice of career.
I think they are right. But to survey only the ones who have chosen to be academics is to miss out on people who are sensitive to salary and therefore did not choose to be academics.
To attract some of the best minds to fundamental research, especially with top corporate salaries on the rise, we have to permit research funding to match a scholar's productivity.
A professor at a top research institute told how they recently hired a talented PhD, who was earning a big salary in a leading IT company and was giving that up to earn the standard 14,000 rupees ($305) per month for a starting academic.
This is roughly what a senior call centre worker earns.
I'm not sure about Basu's contention here. I believe [and please correct me if I'm wrong here], many European countries have the same salary structure across disciplines (like India does). The differentiation (in sciences and engineering, at least) is largely through other status indicators such as high performers getting bigger lab space, a bigger direct funding from the university (to support more students and post-docs) etc.
In other words, European countries (and Australia? New Zealand?) also have a 'star system', but it's based on non-salary status markers.
Is the lack of a salary-based 'star system' the main impediment to attracting more and better faculty candidates to our Elite Institutions?