... [M]aybe he was already told not to expect to be hired in a permanent position, and his report was his way of venting his grievance at the CSIR DG. Which makes it even more unprofessional. Regardless of the truth or otherwise in his observations, I don't think the report will now be taken seriously, nor should it be.
But that shouldn't detract from two key issues. First, exactly what sort of position was Shiva hired under in the first place, why, and what was his mandate? Second, the need to reform and streamline CSIR remains: what does the DG plan to do in this regard? I suspect the CSIR DG made a mistake (caused by over-eagerness to "get things done") in hiring V A Shiva, and knows it; he should now make amends -- first, by coming clean on exactly what happened; and second, by making sure the need for reforming and modernising CSIR is not sidetracked.
Let me now turn to the question in this post's title. It's triggered by this column (free registration required) in Nature - India by Prof. Gautam Desiraju (who, btw, is now a colleague at IISc -- he moved from the University of Hyderabad recently).
Desiraju frames the issue as one of hiring an outsider -- and more specifically, a "foreigner":
There is no dearth of qualified and highly successful scientists with long and enriching careers in India. CSIR itself has many such scientists. Some of them have obtained PhD degrees from prominent universities abroad and have significant collaborations with respected scientists from around the globe.
Most of these scientists are also well aware of the ground realities in India, meaning they harbour realistic expectations of what may or may not be achieved in India. In short, there is no shortage of hard headed, knowledgeable and practical Indian scientists who have lived and worked in India.
The thought that prominent research organisations feel the need to turn to foreign shores to find 'leadership' for their rudderless bodies is anachronistic. This can hardly be a colonial hang-up: not after 62 years.
Now, it's possible that Prof. Samir Brahmachari, DG, CSIR, hired Shiva Ayyadurai in spite of the availability of a more capable CSIR insider. While we don't know much about why Ayyadurai was hired, what we do know is that he turned out to be a bad bet -- however, we know this only after his report blew up so spectacularly in Brahmachari's face.
But, isn't it too much of a stretch to cite what is essentially a case of hiring FAIL as evidence to oppose -- or, to erect nationalist barriers to -- hiring of outsiders?
Unfortunately for Desiraju, he undermines his own case with the last paragraph:
The rot has set in deep within CSIR and elsewhere. Cosmetic changes here and there would be like dusting rouge on a corpse. In the end, we run the grave risk of perishing.
Didn't he start this line of argument with how CSIR is swarming with "qualified and highly successful scientists with long and enriching careers in India"? How, then, does this mighty CSIR morph, in just a couple of paragraphs, into a "corpse" in which "the rot has set in deep"?