Monday, August 26, 2013

High Level Hires from Abroad

The non-resident Indian scientist [Shreemanta Parida], appointed two years ago as chief executive officer of a government vaccine research programme, resigned last month and returned home to Berlin, saying India’s science bureaucracy had prevented him from working.

Scientists familiar with Parida’s plight say his 25-month stay in India is a tale of how an entrenched science bureaucracy stonewalled a newcomer, senior administrators failed to curb the harassment, and good intentions deteriorated into bitter acrimony.

There's a lot more on this train-wreck in G. Mudur's report in The Telegraph.

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Some observations:

  1. Mudur's report reminded me of another very high-profile train wreck: the disastrous tenure of Nobel Prize winner Robert Laughlin at the Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. WSJ carried a detailed analysis of that episode by Nicholas Zamiska in May 2007 [linked in this post].

  2. Way back in 2002, Prof. Shobo Bhattacharya, who was then a scientist at NEC Research Center in Princeton, New Jersey, was chosen to head the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. While Prof. Bhattacharya completed his full term with no untoward incident, his appointment was used by some bigwigs of Indian science establishment to tut-tut about the lack of home-grown science leaders in the next generation. Do read the article in Science [requires subscription, though]; it has some truly juicy quotes!

    The article in Science, and the worthies behind those juicy quotes, received a stinging rebuke from Prof. P. Balaram through an editorial in Current Science.

  3. Just a few days from now, Prof. Ashish Nanda of Harvard will take charge as Director of IIM-A [see his early views on his new job here and here.

    Let's wish him luck!

* * *

One final thought. Any resemblance between the contents of this post and these famous first lines in a textbook is purely coincidental!

“Ludwig Boltzmann, who spent much of his life studying statistical mechanics, died in 1906, by his own hand. Paul Ehrenfest, carrying on the same work, died similarly in 1933. Now it is our turn to study statistical mechanics.

Perhaps it will be wise to approach the subject cautiously.
-- David Goodstein, in States of Matter


  1. Arunn said...

    The working link for Prof. Balram's essay is here


  2. Abi said...

    @Arunn: I made the mistake of taking a link from an ancient post.

    Thanks for pointing it out, and for giving me a working link. I've fixed it now.

  3. Prithwiraj Mukherjee said...

    how about MIT's shiva ayyadurai failing in the bureaucratic csir?

  4. Abi said...

    @Pritwiraj: Umm, Shiva Ayyadurai belongs to a super-elite category which makes you feel very comfortable about not choosing anyone to pity.