What you see below is a slightly edited version of an e-mail addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with "Expressing Concern over PMO & HRD Ministry Interference in TIFR, Premier Institutes (IITs, etc)" as its subject. I have the permission to identify the sender only as "a Professor from NYU, who wants to withhold his name."
Expressing solidarity with Scientific Community’s concern about PMO’s interference in TIFR Director selection.
Expressing concern over Minister’s/Bureaucrat’s increased interference in selecting IIT Directors, Premier Research Institute Directors.
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Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi,
I am writing this letter to you to express my solidarity with my fellow Scientist’s concern over the recent unhealthy developments, in the process of setting directions for premier Academic Institutes (IITs, IISERs etc) and Central Government Research Institutes spread across India, and the arbitrary manner bureaucrats are starting to take decisions.
We, Visiting Scientists in Central Research Institutes, are deeply concerned about the ill treatment meted to Scientific community by IAS bureaucrats in PMO and in key Ministries, resulting in situations where our fellow scientists are getting demoralized. Dr Sandip Trivedi is a brilliant Scientist of international repute and held key investigator roles in Fermi Labs in Illinois, US, a reputed lab for Theoretical Physics, for several years. We get alarmed when Internationally accomplished Scientists like Dr Sandip Trivedi are rejected based on Technical grounds and by bureaucrat’s whims in PMO, suggesting that PMO bureaucrats have no clue in evaluating eminent Scientists like Dr Sandip [Trivedi]. In addition, my fellow Professors in IITs are unhappy with HRD Minister Mrs Smriti Irani [whose] style of functioning has been a source of concern for many Faculty members in IITs and other centrally funded Technical Institutes. Expressing dissatisfaction about HRD Ministry functioning, even senior Scientists like Dr Anil Kakodkar are starting to dissociate from IIT Governing bodies, suggesting an unhealthy trend. Series of incidents prompts us to come to the rescue of our friends in India and urging you to intervene and make suitable corrections.
Institutes of National importance like IITs, IIMs etc, Premier Research Institutes like TIFR, CSIR should be allowed to function autonomously and key Ministries like S&T Ministry, HRD Ministry, Dept. Of Atomic Energy should be managed with a scientific temper, like in United States and Europe. When Scientists of Indian origins shine outside of India, it is the responsibility of Government of India to provide an equivalent ecosystem in India itself to harness the potential of Indian Scientific community. Unfortunately, from what I gather from my fellow Scientists in India, Ministers in-charge, Senior bureaucrats in PMO and Ministerial Secretaries do not have the Scientific bent of mind to make them accountable by coming up with proper metrics, instead constantly interfere in their work citing frivolous reasons.
I was able to pursue my higher study in [Institution X] and have been [serving as a Named Chair Institution Y] from the year 2011 onwards, and [I] completely support the existing selection process for TIFR Director. I urge Hon’ble Prime Minister to solicit inputs from eminent scientists, study Government labs in US, Europe and Japan, take [everyone] on-board and make suitable corrections.
[A Professor at NYU]