Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nature on the Ayyadurai affair

K.S. Jayaraman has a piece in Nature entitled Report Row Ousts Top Indian Scientist (probably behind a paywall). Leaving aside the bit about "top scientist," let me focus on the new information in Jayaraman's report. In the following, bold emphasis has been added by me:

  1. "Ayyadurai says that the report — which was not commissioned by the CSIR — was intended to elicit feedback about the institutional barriers to technology commercialization."

  2. "Our interaction with CSIR scientists revealed that they work in a medieval, feudal environment," says Ayyadurai. "Our report said the system required a major overhaul because innovation cannot take place in this environment."

  3. [Deepak] Sardana [co-author of the report] [has written] to science minister Prithviraj Chavan on 19 October saying that "it is not possible for me to continue working without your immediate direct intervention" because of the problems triggered by the report.

  4. "I am more worried that the incident will dampen the enthusiasm of Indian institutions to hire expatriates in the future," says Valangiman Ramamurthy, the former science secretary of the government's Department of Science and Technology, who recommended Ayyadurai's selection.

Just one quick comment. Ramamurthy may have "recommended Ayyadurai's selection," but he's being silly in suggesting that it'll affect the hiring of expats.

Sure, Ayyadurai is an NRI, but are all NRIs Ayyadurais?

For the record, Jayaraman's piece does salvage the situation by quoting several others -- Gangan Prathap, Rajan Sankaranarayanan, and Samir Brahmachari -- who don't see things the same way as Ramamurthy.


  1. Anonymous said...

    people seem to be deftly skirting the real issue here. wonder if it is a subtle clique of the csir director.
    some questions that need answers:
    1. why did the director hire ayyadurai? was he so naie that he didnt realise that ayyadurai was a poseur(if at all he is a poseur). if he did realise he was a poseur, what were the kickback involved?
    2. has he hired more ayyadurais?
    3. can anyone stop attacking ayyadurai's character and attack his allegations instead? or is it easier to chang the subject because someone has a sleek website and spouts management guru jargon?

    we have had too many such cases to let this one go as a one-off case. too many times have egomaniacs taken the entire scientific establishment for a ride. we have "star scientists" putting their names on every publication from their institute. we have politically motivated powerful people deftly killing publications, and coercing innocent to plagiarise the work of others. we need some answers now!

  2. Anonymous said...

    Dear Anonymous @ Nov 11, 5.25 PM

    Very nicely summarized. Unfortunately that is how all Indian system operates (not works, because it rarely works).

    The stereotyping and almost racist (very shallow) comment made by former science secretary sums up the entire mentality of Indian science administrators and Govt.

  3. Anonymous said...

    Even if we agree that ayyadurai is crook, it does not absolve CSIR. Why such a person was hired at all? People are talking as if he is the only dead wood in CSIR. What is the credential of people sitting at top?

  4. Anonymous said...

    Bottomline is the lack of "accountability" in the entire Indian system. How can Science or CSIR be untouched from that?

    See example of that guy Manu Sharma (convicted of murder) being released on "favored" parole for most "flimsy reasons", which was "extended" and then "misused". All this happened in the National Capital under the nose of Chief Minister, PM and Super Sonia. PM will say "it is state's responsibility" and CM will say "it was police's responsibility". And anyway Sonia has no responsibility.

    Nothing will happen in India until people holding high offices are held responsible for their actions and punished accordingly. Make people accountable whether it is a Director of CSIR or a clerk in his office or PMO.

    Thanks to some motivated people who are making things a bit functional in the country.

  5. Anonymous said...
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  6. Anonymous said...

    Maybe this position for which Ayyadurai was hired is some kind of personal advisory/consultancy position within CSIR DG's secretariat in which
    case the standard norms of hiring a scientist doesn't apply.