When I saw N.R. Narayana Murthy's op-ed in The Hindu on Securing Indias Science Future, I thought it would be fun to go plus-ultra on Raj, and list the instances of largely meaning-free verbiage in it. Here we go:
The importance of scientific and technological advancement in today’s highly globalised environment cannot be overstated.
In an increasingly competitive global economy, knowledge-driven growth powered by innovation is a critical imperative.
While India is uniquely positioned to use technology for progress, it has in the recent past lagged behind considerably in the quality and spread of science research.
This is a critical lacuna that could well determine the fate not just of our scientific and developmental future but, more importantly, of our progress as a nation.
It is common knowledge that research in basic sciences is a critical pre-requisite for the success of applied sciences and the bedrock of all technological advancement.
The key to continued success for India in a globalised knowledge-driven economy is building a higher education system that is superior in quality and committed encouragement of relevant research in science and technology.
What is needed is an environment where the government, universities, companies, venture capitalists, and other stakeholders come together for the enablement of the entire science eco-system with an eye on future sustainability. [This is my favourite!]
The government must play a key role by enhancing the number, quality, and management of science schools focussed on science research.
The IIT model of success needs to be replicated on a far larger scale.
Providing the requisite autonomy to research institutions is an important necessity.
Okay, I give up! There's a lot more in there, because I have barely finished one half of Murthy's op-ed.
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The only potentially redeeming part of the entire article is the middle portion that has some data on the state of funding and on the number of PhD graduates. Even this part is marred by sloppiness -- in both data and argument.
For example, his article's focus is on scientific research. Why, then, is he citing data about engineering, without citing any on science?
Although India produces about 400,000 engineering graduates and about 300,000 computer science graduates every year, just about 20,000 master’s degree holders and fewer than 1,000 Ph.Ds in engineering graduate each year.
At another place, he mentions US $ 24 billion as India's "R&D spend" in 2007-08. I wonder where he got that number from. That's over Rs. 100,000 crores -- it's well over India's defence expenditure for that year!
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Maybe I shouldn't, but I expect a solid, grounded, reality-based analysis from Murthy, because he has that street-cred that can come only from building a great company. I expect relevant and unimpeachable data to support his opinions and suggestions, especially since he likes to chant, "In God we trust, everyone else brings data to the table."
What I see in his op-ed, instead, is just tons and tons of boilerplate.