Friday, November 06, 2009

The Curious Case of Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai

Ankita Anika Gupta of Mint has the scoop.

Here's a basic outline of the plot: Ayyadurai, a 45 year-old NRI scientist / technocrat, was parachuted into the CSIR system at a plum salary (by Indian public sector standards -- Band Pay of Rs. 60,000 + Grade Pay of 12,000).

It's not clear to me what exactly his mandate or job description was, but he ended up producing a report that was critical of the leadership at CSIR.

Result: he has been fired!

Here is a summary of where the two parties -- Ayyadurai and CSIR leadership -- stand:

“(CSIR) is attempting to remove me (in) reaction to my addressing well-known, intrinsic leadership issues during the course of my professional duties to serve the cause of Indian science and innovation,” said Shiva Ayyadurai in a 30 October letter, a copy of which is with the Hindustan Times. [...]

Samir Brahmachari, director general of CSIR, said Ayyadurai’s services were terminated because he was a “financial mismatch”. “He was demanding too much salary,” said Brahmachari. “Everyone told me I was pampering him because he came from abroad.”

With so much of he-said-(s)he-said in Gupta's version of the story, I still don't have enough to be able to offer a comment.

Do read that story, though. It'll give you a sense of -- and an opportunity, perhaps, to bask in some schadenfreude on -- the kinds of troubles that our institutions (and their leadership) are capable of inviting.


  1. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    I just saw this on rediff, which makes the story seem even odder. But perhaps not so odd for those who know CSIR and its current DG.

  2. Anonymous said...

    Abi, Do we know anything about this gentleman? Seems like a snake oil salesman.
    Here is something I found on google.

    "He has authored books such as Arts and the Internet and the Internet Guide to Publicity."

    "V.A. Shiva is a specialist in E-Mail technology and e-marketing methods...He is recognized as an expert in a wide range of subjects from artificial intelligence, marketing and consumer behavior to nature cure and Eastern medicine and has presented research papers throughout the United States and Europe."

    Hmmm! Internet Guide to Publicity indeed.

  3. Anonymous said...

    whoever has met or worked with this guy would know for certain who is this guy and what is his motivation.

    This guy claims he is an MIT faculty, whereas no such evidence exists on the MIT website proving his point that he is a tenured faculty. He also claims to be director of a center which is nothing more than a website hosted from chennai. Down with such jobless american indians who are back to exploit indian taxpayers money and make a mess of things that they do

  4. Anonymous said...

    Jobless american indian cheat using is cheap tricks in india . Shame on you guys to play cheap under the garb of 'helping' indians out. Waste of indian taxpayers money

  5. Anonymous said...

    its easy to launch ad hominem attacks here and ayyadurai may be no saint...but lets face it...his alleged remarks about csir are worthy of notice. csir has turned talented scientific minds into blatantly lobbying politicians. look at a former director. clearly implicated in a major plagiarism scandal, he continues to be a powerful figure in indian science and technology, and pontifies on innovation and intellectual property. one just has to visit any csir lab to see the decay there. maybe its time to disband the csir and divert its precious financial and intellectual resources to the decaying universities instead, only then can calcutta, delhi and pune universities rub shoulders with the berkeleys and the NUSs of the world. there's no point setting up new indian institutes of everything without changing our subservience towards powerful "scientific middlemen" and scamsters posing as genuine men of science.

  6. Anonymous said...

    I do find an article on Dr. Ayyadurai at the MIT website.

  7. Anonymous said...

    Canada is reviewing its national research council's performance, the president and vice president quit/got fired recently. Germany conducts periodic reviews of the Max Plancks and the other similar institutes, and close down underperforming ones. Things just drag on in CSIR. The good CSIR labs should be made into degree-granting institutes. The crappy ones should be closed down, or merged with similar DRDO labs.

    The guy seems to have lots of degrees from MIT, but almost no publications. Which is typical of MIT. A lot of people there focus on hype, most of the work doesn't get past peer review. The Media Lab is famous for this.

  8. Anonymous said...

    Shiva Ayyadurai seems to have just a bunch of hype stuff on his sleeve. He was an abusive boss in his previous company and a master of denials and coverups. Anybody who has been to his press meeting yesterday would readily agree on his personality issue and lack of complete logic.

  9. Anonymous said...

    It appears that Shiva Ayyadurai does not have great record (other than MIT degrees which so many people have). But there are two questions which needs to be answered by Govt. and/or CSIR

    1. How could CSIR Director and Bosses hire a person like him? Did they not evaluate Shiva Ayyadurai's CV closely? Few bloggers could so in couple of days. Does CSIR Director have access to Google?

    2. Irrespective of Shiva Ayyadurai's CV and record, is there truth in his report? If so can we neglect it. Don't shoot the messenger, look for the message.

    In my personal experience with some of the scientists (F and G level), majority of them are snobs without significant productivity and try to behave worse than bureaucrats. Of course, some are very good too but that is a smaller number. There is too much of hierarchy and insiginficant freedom for junior scientists to express their "scientific opinion".

    Science does not have hierarchy and these CSIR bosses should know. I am aware of several of my friends who quit DRDO and CSIR labs to become faculty in IIX because of lack of freedom to work in those labs.

  10. Anonymous said...

    Following through the comments, it seems customary that people take a dig at CSIR without even knowing what it is and how it has been working, especially in recent times.

    CSIR has been recently doing globally recognised science, as evicenced by publications that its labs produce, including the cover page of Nature, which was not in the too recent past.

    As a student in one of the CSIR labs, I feel the working environment is better than one of the US labs I have visited with intellectually simulating discussions and of course challenging work.

    Hey sycophants, please do not just bullshit.

  11. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    Anonymous - I know some outstanding CSIR labs (eg CCMB) and some outstanding people at CSIR. But it is an enormous organisation and needs to be streamlined and given a slightly clearer mandate than it has. Whatever one may think of Dr Ayyadurai's qualifications and abilities, this particular story smells odd. Either he was good enough to head CSIR-Tech (which is one of the current DG's pet projects and potentially an extremely important one) or he was not. If he was, why was he fired? And if he was not, why was he appointed in the first place?

    This business of his demanding too much money doesn't sound right, since the money was agreed upon upfront, as far as I can see: there is no report of his demanding a raise.

    According to this article, CCMB's founder, P M Bhargava, calls it "a very honest report" and says he too has written to the PMO on Ayyadurai's behalf; while others disagree and find it "unprofessional". The article also quotes the CSIR DG as saying Ayyadurai was terminated because "he violated CSIR and Government of India Code of Conduct regulations."

    I think, to clear the air, the CSIR should just make the report public, together with a rebuttal if they think it was unfair or inaccurate.

  12. Anonymous said...

    @Rahul, It seems quite likely that the DG messed up in choosing the guy.

    This happens all the time, wrong guys getting the job. Now the DG should either throw the guy out or continue with guy to hide his own mistake, thus sabotaging his pet project.

    So the guy was fired on some admittedly flimsy grounds. I am not even sure if the report had anything to do with it; unless the report posited that Shiva should be overseeing the DG's working!

    It makes sense for the DG to place the report in public. I doubt it there should be any additional insights over what we can produce in an afternoon. After all who can object to the need to streamline the institution, empowering scientists, breaking down power centers, weeding out the inefficient, rewarding the outstanding etc. And the solutions are also equally clear: create a flat organization, create a HR dept as in private sector which will boost the morale of the scientists, create an internal wiki for sharing of information, and in short communicate, communicate, communicate!

    Do we really think the report will have any additional insight? Oh yes, create a new hire and fire policy so that the institution can get rid of people not meeting "high standards of excellence" instead of waiting for them to retire some 30 years later.

    Which is what the DG just did.

  13. Anonymous said...

    I know CSIR labs are just third class good for monthly salary begging individuals. I do not know why that idiot from MIT came there.

  14. Anonymous said...

    Irrespective of the credentials of Dr Shiva the following stay as facts:-
    1. CSIR is in deep trouble more so because of the incompetent leadership, amply demonstrated in the present case.
    2. Its high time the Government went in for a complete revamp of CSIR to put the science back on track.
    3. We the people need to take an initiative in urging the PM to take a lead and shake off the cobwebs in the CSIR to put our interests at front.

  15. Anonymous said...

    I am senior scientist in CSIR working from last number of years and have seen everything very closely. In CSIR we have scientist which are as qualified any other scientist in the world.

    Like any govt. organization CSIR have no reward and punishment policy. It means you got all facility up to your retirement even you do not perform. This is human nature to live easy and comfortable life in absence of reward or punishment.

    It is not like that CSIR do not have rule to terminate but problem is our courts and public sympathy. Even if you take genuine action against these no-performers and problem creator, still you face tough time from our court and public. My experience is that most of case these non-performer win cases or case goes for years. Higher authorities lose their lot of time and performance in handling peoples who create non-sense. Public know facts still they have sympathy with these peoples. So in long run based on experience authorities do not touch these no-performers instead provide more facility (promotions) in order to keep them busy. This policy converts more and more performers towards non-performers.

    This is the reason only few scientist are performing, rest of them are making fun of system and of performing scientist. Till our public stop to sympathize with non-performers we will not be able to grow.

    In this thread lot of people are criticizing CSIR instead of Shiva who have violate lots of rules and is not suitable for job. Its true that CSIR fails to judge him but till you try some one how you know person is suitable for job or not.

    What is wrong if CSIR fires a person if he is not suitable for organization, why our public is crying. This is common phenomena in private and most of developing countries. Their public never interfear in hiering and firing of a person. Today is competitive world if you are suitable for a organization than you will survive otherwise you will be terminated.

    In my view this justify to terminate this type of people as early as possible from CSIR, if they are not suitable. I feel CSIR can improved quickly if this policy is adopted to other non-performing CSIR scientists who are burden on CSIR. These scientist are not performing as well as creating hurdle to the performers.

  16. Anonymous said...

    Anon above -

    1. It is not clear that Shiva was "under-performing"

    2. If "under-performing" is the criteria, given that you also say most of the scientist in CSIR dont work, CSIR should get rid of most of its staff, instead of just one man, right?

    3. The reason so many folks are criticizing CSIR is that they bungled in this case and are unable to give a coherent response about the entire matter, while whatever Shiva has put out there seems clear enough and has not been contradicted by CSIR top brass.

  17. Anonymous said...

    off topic, Abi, the reporter's name is Anika Gupta. :)

  18. Anonymous said...

    A quick way for anyone to check the scientific credential of a scientist is to type his/her name into google-scholar ( It spits out the publications and patents and how many times they have been cited by others. Curiously, this person Shiva has a profile that is inferior to any standard fresh PhD student from India's top 5 institutes. If you know any scientist's name, type in and find the results in Google scholar. An average faculty in top CSIR labs would have a handful of publications with 20 or more citations/paper. An average mid-career faculty -comparable to Shiva - in top western lab would have 5-10 publications with 100 or more citation per paper. This guy has no publication with more than 10 citation. With such pity publication record it is hard to get an entry level scientist job in a CSIR lab -forget about a faculty job in the US or Europe. I wonder how he got a job to oversee Science operation of a nation. There is something fishy in his appointment.

    On CSIR labs, it is a common knowledge that some are underperforming and Indian Science in general needs beurocratic overhaul and review system. Such overhaul will take a decade to be in place - similar slow and painful change in Japan and European system is finally yeilding dividend. Do we need to get an outside consultant to tell us this simple facts?

  19. Navaneethan Santhanam said...

    Hi Abi,

    Just found a [URL=""]Nature News[/URL] article on the whole sordid affair and one line in particular struck me as being a tad strange. KS Jayaraman writes, "Ayyadurai says that the report — [b]which was not commissioned by the CSIR[/b] — was intended to elicit feedback ..."

    This was not mentioned by Rediff, The Hindu or Mint. I wonder whether this makes a difference to the case.

    Regardless, I wish Brahmachari would allow the public to see the report and decide for ourselves whether Ayyadurai was fired. I have no idea how CSIR is run (although I did attend a talk by Dr. Mashelkar, and was pretty impressed), but this whole cloak-and-dagger approach is really annoying.

  20. Rahul Siddharthan said...

    The Nature article is headlined "Report row ousts top Indian scientist", which instantly diminishes its credibility in my eyes. By no stretch of the imagination is Ayyadurai a "top Indian scientist" -- he's not top, not (as far as I can tell) Indian, and not a scientist until very recently when he reportedly did a PhD in systems biology. His main claim to fame seems to be an e-mail company called EchoMail. (Heard of it? I thought not.)

    The real question, to me, is why he was hired in the first place.

  21. Navaneethan Santhanam said...

    Hi Rahuk, I hadn't thought of that, but you're right. I'm not sure how he got the job, why he was preparing that report, and why the report has been suppressed.

    Regardless of his credentials, I'd like to see the report (some noise about it being made public, not sure though).

    In any case, it would be interesting to understand what an outsider (who is hopefully objective), thinks of the Indian scientific establishment because I really have no clue how the system works.

  22. Anonymous said...

    1. The appointments at the top level and also even those not at the top level by CSIR, now and in the past (during the regime of earlier DG, Dr Mashelkar) as well as the manner in which some of the pressing problems were handled at CSIR need attention of those who are at the top (the President and Vice-President of CSIR)

    2. There is world class talent available within CSIR that is being overlooked for a long time now (in preference to those from outside as well as from within India for reasons which are not entirely merit based)

    3. The concept of second and third line of defence has taken a thorough beating as evidenced by the "dearth" of eligible scientists to lead departments at CSIR HQ and in labs,

    4. Sycophancy, in the garb of "yes-men" is replacing "excellence" with "mediocrity" which is well-knit and wide spread, for that is their strength,

    5. The mechanism adapted is simple, rate or grade "non yes-men (or women)" meritorious, excellent scientists low such that they do not become eligible even for facing the interview board for promotion to next higher grade (while awarding excellent or better grade to "yes-men" so they march up the promotion ladder) [This is how the new personnel policy works now one's grading/rating is only a gate-pass to the interview board only without any weightage to the work, in contrast to the earlier one where the work in the assessment period had a "weightage" that along with "peer rating of the work done" and "interview rating" together would decide the promotion]. Many such scientists are suffering while their less-capable counterparts are being elevated to higher grades,

    6. The lab directors and those holding similar positions in CSIR HQ and other divisions wield a lot of power. Absolute power. They are above law. And the best part is they have hardly any responsibility as only the DG (that is CSIR, not its labs) is recognized in the eyes of law, and whatever is done by them, the CSIR has to bear the responsibility,

    7. With all said and done, it is the best organization in India. The ambience and infrastructure is good and one can work wonders. It is unfortunate that other better organizations are not available where the meritorious scientists could relocate themselves. Or may be they must look outwards, offshores, out of compulsion. [then their value will increase and who knows some of them may be hired as STIOs at the top position].

    "Outsider" is no guarantee of "objective" in report, assessment or interpretation.

  23. Anonymous said...

    This is unfortunate our own indian do not have confidence on self and on their colleagues. No one take own responsibility, if we are part of system and system is fails, we should take responsibility of its failure. Hire and fire is common practice all over the world, if Shiva was fired for non-cooperation attitude, where is the problem. Instead of discussing issue our own indian are criticizing whole scientific community of India as Indian scientist have no existence. This is the problem we suffering because we are destroying our own image for your information Indian have rank #12 based on papers total published by a country in a year, see . Our scientist got salary one fifth of the salary scientist and our student trained in this country work abroad due to money. Our budget is small part of budget spend by developed country. In india/CSIR we have scientist which are performing as good as other colleagues in the world. Only problem is percentage of dedicated scientist is less, we have large number of non-performing scientist because we can not fire a scientist. It means once you join you are safe till retirement. See reaction of public against CSIR when they fire a person (shiva) who have only work for few months and was not on permanent job. Think if CSIR have fire any person who is on permanent job. This is the reason once we got permanent job we start to behave we are god. We know that nobody can fire us from job. We can not progress till we have policy of hire and fire.

  24. Anonymous said...

    Student trained in this country are serving developing countries. This means we have education and science system on place.

  25. vpatel said...

    Look guys. Something really smells here.... Real bad, and I wonder about those posting on this who are overtly for CSIR or Bhramchari.

    Has anyone here read the report?!

    I got a copy of the report from a friend at CSIR. And I read it. I wanted to make up my own mind. I had heard that Bhramchari is a manipulator, liar and vindictive as hell. He has crushed many others who oppose him, and like the Russians sends people off to Siberia. It's a good report, but it is quite frank, overtly direct and definitely rips CSIR and Bhramchari. Dr. Bhargava, in the Nature article, agrees with Ayyadurai's Chapter 7. Bhargava has a lot of credibility, is the oldest CSIR employee and foudned CCMB, the only real lab in CSIR that produces good work. So, something is up here.

    My friend knows Ayyadurai and he gave up a lot. I mean Ayyadurai was an Insider and he didn't buy the party line. He is a HERO for Indian Science and is the one suffering. He got thrown out of his house, his job, etc.

    He did create one of the world's first e-mail system (i checked the US copyright site). He is a Fulbright Scholar, checked that too He is considered a Faculty member, since he is a Lecturer at MIT.

    The problem with this guy is he was too naive and should have just kept his mouth shut and taken all the perks and laid low and not done any work. He actually decided to take on Bhramchari and CSIR system. In fact, why don't they let the guy simply execute the 12 spin off's he found --- Bhramchari wanted sychophancy not competency.

  26. Navaneethan Santhanam said...

    @ vpatel -

    Could you post/email a copy of the report? I'd love to see why it caused so much trouble.

  27. Hutom said...

    And so the sad tale of our research institutes continues, ruled by mediocrity, dictatorial and whimsical leadership, and failure to solve actual problems.

  28. Anonymous said...

    I do not know how many of you who posted views here ever interacted with current DG Dr. Samir Bhramchari in person. I do not know Dr. Ayyadurai therefore I will refrain to comment on his credentials. But Dr. Bhramchari is a politician and manipulator that is why he got his current job. During one of my personal meetings with him he was continuously scratching himself like a monkey, sticking his finger in his nose several times every minute and clearing his cough filled throat and swallowing cough every minute. Another time I saw him in front of a foreign delegation in his office and he was behaving the same way. Everybody in that delegation was irritated when DG was nose picking in front of everybody. This DG does not know how to behave in public. A third grade politician from Bihar knows better. If you analyze his recent appointments for the post of directors in various CSIR labs, you will realize that current DG is very shrewd politician. The excuse "financial mismatch" is bullshit.
    But that is the norm in any Govt of India organization.
    Jai Hind.

  29. Anonymous said...

    Dear Anony
    Yours comments are more personal than professional. I do not know Bhramchari persnally but I saw his Biodata available on net. He is successful scientist published more than 100 papers in high ranking journals all papers have high citations. He is responsible to convert from nearly non-functional institute to successful institute. He is a successful scientist not politician. We normally attach our authorities without knowing truth. This is the reason people do not believe critics.


  30. Abi said...

    @Anon (1:07 AM): You ought to be ashamed of your comment. Get a life, will you?

    Go away!

  31. Anonymous said...

    Snake oil salesman = " Dr. VA Shiva Ayyadurai "

  32. Anonymous said...

    I have met Bramhachari in person. He is a great manipulator and politician. He has also made enough money by creating his own pvt company that provides services on genomics. He benefitted his company by passing it insitutional jobs.project that were running on government funding. He is shit and talks shit. At one meeting at IMTECH, chandigarh he demeaned PhD research scholar by saying that PhDs are byproduct of CSIR functioning and not its main concern. He is promting peple who are favoring him to higher appointments. The open source for drug discovery is a great fasade and I bet you nothing will come out of it except publicity and media writing. The major brains working on this project are Dr. GPS Raghava group and few others at IGIB New Delhi but this fu**ker projecting it as if he is doing everything. If he remains in office he will keep raping the whole Indian scientific talents for his own fortune.

  33. Anonymous said...

    Hey Anony,

    You should be ashamed of commenting on something you don't even know a bit of.

    Open Source Drug Discovery has been one of the most "Open" projects in CSIR and a casual look into the website of OSDD reveals close to 2000 (2000 man !!!) people have alsready registered themselves. A large number of projects are open there and in addition, they have managed to put up a summer research project, which the site claims has got 100 researchers registered in a day.

    We all know you Anon and your tribe , and don't behave like a politician taking a chance here and there !!. No wonder it is not the Indian media who writes about OSDD and looks up at CSIR.

  34. Anonymous said...

    @Anony 7:02 : I have known Prof Brahmachari for quite some time now. The company that you have been mentioning is not his and he has no stakes in the company- you can see it for yourself at .Don't please sh*t out in public. Probably you would like to see this :

  35. sc said...

    "Some Indians Find It Tough to Go Home Again"

    There is a lot of meaningless debate about citations. This guy seems to have graduated with his PhD in 2007. How many scientists have a admirable citation record within 2 years?

  36. Anonymous said...

    @10:20:00 AM - Only you seem to get the point right. Citations since 2007 (now being 2009) should hardly be a top criteria. A lot of researchers in India also publish a lot of papers which are cited within their papers or peer group and most of the times in sub-standard journals. Nothing wrong with that, just that citations should be taken with a pinch of salt. It takes a great researcher (the recruiter) and his advisory committee to actually see potential in a young candidate.

    In the US, while people do trying to sell their work, the market is so brutal that if you made it moderately big (like this guy, chances are that he is a genuine in his accomplishments). For those who do not know about EchoMail, there are hundreds of such small innovations in the US, and THAT is the strength of US - small ideas chased and nurtured by young minds). Something unfathomable in India.

    The truth is most higher appointees in India are political. I am not sure about Dr. Brahmachari but I would not be surprised if he was a above average researcher who made his way up by brown-nosing. A lot of good young Indian researchers also understand this but do not try to complicate matters - rather they try to justify their surroundings.

    I hope there is a silent revolution where the private sector picks up these brains and recruits them for science. Organizations like CSIR and DRDO will always be drain to tax-payers money due to corrupt leaders (maybe like the one mentioned here).

    -A young scientist in the US who has had people close to higher research in India

  37. Anonymous said...

    You want to know the true face of Samir Brahmachari "the Dictator" read the laest news article from "The New York times" (go to the end of the article).

    After interviewing with Brahmachari on Shiva controversy HEATHER TIMMONS of the NY times reports that:

    "As the interview was closing, Mr. Brahmachari questioned why anyone would be interested in the situation, and then said he would complain to a reporter’s bosses in New York if she continued to pursue the story."

    " Mr. Brahmachari, who was two hours late for an interview scheduled by his office"

  38. Anonymous said...

    I think the last paragraph of the New York Times article is very revealing about the administration.

  39. Anonymous said...

    A few points:

    1. What should be the right credentials/experience for a person heading CSIR-Tech (what should be the job description): A person with a scientific background at highest level, solid understanding of technology licensing, knowledge on legal framework, basic understanding of international patent law and solid understanding of running a scientific/technology start-up: From all these counts, Ayyadurai has the right credentials (or so it appears from his website)

    2. It's not pertinent to discuss how good of a scientist Ayyadurai is/was or how many citations his publications have received, why? because this is not relevant for the job that he was supposedly hired for. His job was NOT to be a practicing scientist in a CSIR lab BUT to understand hidden treasures in CSIR labs and help commercialise those.

    3. I wonder if its possible to get hold of the whole report by filing a request under government's Right To Information Act (I am not even sure whether RTI act applies to internal government reports before they are finalized/approved). This would help clarify a lot of comments & counter-comments.

    4. No mater how much of a problem CSIR or its current leadership has, as its supposedly been portrayed by the report, Ayyadurai's style of functioning was not right. You can't and shouldn't try to impose US style of management in India. This doesn't necessarily mean that there is no folly in our system but we should rectify the system to be better and more efficient within our own framework rather than copying others blindly. Ayyadurai should have had a candid talk with the DG in a one-to-one setting (we don't know whether he did) in stead of making the report public to all of CSIR's scientists (which he did). Its not what Ayyadurai said in the report but how he said it.

    5. We, Indians, are very touchy about anyone and everyone who is critical about us/our style of functioning/our system. A mature nation/system takes things in stride rather than being reactionary. Hence, let's examine what we could all do to better our own surrounding rather than lamenting on it.

    Looking at the brighter side, one can only hope that something good comes out of it at the end.

  40. Sam said...

    This may be an opportunity for a public discussion on the broader issue of admistrative incompetence at public academic and research institutions in India, besides the issues specific to the two individuals, Ayyadurai and Brahmchari. Over the past 25 years I have known many Indian scientists and engineers who returned to India only to leave in disillusionment soon after. The institutions included such well respected ones as the IITs. One of the most common has been reneging on verbal promises of every kind, the most common being housing. Even the written agreements have been further "bargained" at the threat of indefinite delays to meet the written agreements. Such tactics are employed at every administrative level. But the saddest chapter is typically started when the higest authorities i.e. the directors etc. get involved. The naive idealist returning from the West realizes the rot started at the top, only to trickle down.

  41. Sam said...


    I don't know Siva Ayyadurai, but I knew his thesis advisor, Prof. C. Forbes Dewey, when I did my PhD in the Fluid Mechanics Lab at MIT more than 15 years ago, where prof Dewey was appointed. He was one tough cookie! I will not dismiss Ayyadurai just on the ground that he got his PhD under Prof. Dewey.

  42. Anonymous said...

    Mr. Ayyadurai is the founder and stake holder in two multi million dollar enterprises. So Rs.60000+Rs.12000 a month does not exactly sink his ship. Good, we got that out of the way.

    Next, Brahmachari is one arrogant person is he not, if per the NY Times article published November 27, 2009, he was 2 hours late for an appointment (Speaks volumes for his leadership and management style) and if he threatened the NY Times liason reporter that he would report her to her boss in New York (!)

    Furthermore, if Ayyadurai is such an incompetent person ... well how many people in the CSIR have had 26 years in constant academic, research AND business involvement at a prestigious institute such as the MIT or it's Indian equivalents?

    Last, but not the least, what is wrong if a scientist who has a business acumen, (and who indeed, was hired to make the CSIR a business friendly lab) actually goes about doing EXACTLY THAT and brings to attention the relative (in)-competencies and hurdles to attention of the management that hired him to do so in the first place?


  43. shalinster said...

    I completely agree with the last comment in many ways. First of all, a critique of an organization does not always speaks of the quality of people at an organization. There is little doubt in my mind that CSIR has great scientists, maybe even better than Ayyadurai himself. But that is akin to saying India has great people living in it and therefore it is a perfectly function democracy. As far as other things are concerned, we are quite ready to admit that organizational bureaucracy holds back quite a few things. I see Ayyadurai's critique as no differnt. Besides, he was hired to specifically form a profit making venture CSIR-tech as a spinoff of CSIR. Hence, if he claims that with a budge of 500 millions (by the way, their website itself claims that they are probably the world largest publicly funded R&D lab), all they are able to generate is techology worth 80 million and that if not for the organizational hurdles they would be able to generate much more, what exactly is wrong about it? [This argument can be made even though it hasnt and is probably not worth pushing, but it is our money isn't it. The government funds the lab from the taxes it gets from us presumably. ]

    As far as the comments about his qualifications are concerned, I think they take away from the main point. Like i read somewhere before, if he was incompetent why was he hired? Eitherways, it actually goes against the very people Ayyadurai wrote the report against. Apart from that, from what i have read he is pretty competent for the job he was hired which was essentially trying to push for a climate where it is easier for people to pursue direcly applicable research. That kind of work to my knowledge requires not so many publications but an acumen to be able to turn your ideas into something practical. I would have cried foul if the goal was to disrupt an environment of doing pure science and research, but that does not seem to be the case at all.

    As far as the salary is concerned, he agreed to it upfront. Though i smell something fishy. They should just make the report public. That way, people can get a sense of what exactly he was trying to say.

  44. Anonymous said...

    Too many of you are concerned with Mr. Ayyadurai's Publications, but what the world really needs are people who can bring Technology and Business together, exploiting that synergy. This is very difficult to find as most Universities a focused primarily on Academics.

    Bill Gates is leaps and bounds ahead of Steve Jobs in terms of Programming/Engineering ability, but the [Western] world sees them as worthy competitors.

    Mark C. Taylor, the chairman of the religion department at Columbia, recently wrote an article [End the University as We Know It] in the NYT that argued for 7-year tenures at all Universities, and that education should be more collaborative and more focused on solving the world's many problems.

    Complete article here...

    Here is an excerpt from another NYT article. Pay attention to the last sentence where Mr. Brahmachari is threatening the NYT reporter. Makes you wonder what it must be like to work with him.

    ...But going public with such accusations is highly unusual. Mr. Ayyadurai circulated his paper not just to the agency’s scientists but to journalists, and wrote about his situation to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. India is “sitting on a huge opportunity” to create new businesses and tap into thousands of science and technology experts, Mr. Ayyadurai said, but a “feudal culture” is holding the country back.

    Mr. Brahmachari said in an interview that Mr. Ayyadurai had misunderstood nearly everything — from his handwritten job offer, which he said was only meant to suggest what Mr. Ayyadurai could receive were he to be hired, to the way Mr. Ayyadurai asked scientists for their feedback on what the C.S.I.R. spinoff should look like.

    To prove his point, Mr. Brahmachari, who was two hours late for an interview scheduled by his office, read from a government guide about decision-making in the organization. Mr. Ayyadurai didn’t follow protocol, he said. “As long as your language is positive for the organization I have no problem,” he added.

    As the interview was closing, Mr. Brahmachari questioned why anyone would be interested in the situation, and then said he would complain to a reporter’s bosses in New York if she continued to pursue the story...

    Complete article on NYT here...

    "Some Indians Find It Tough to Go Home Again"

  45. Shail said...

    Dear Anony @comment #29: Brahmachari publishing 100 or 1000 papers means nothing. When I was a RA at IISc during the mid 90's, the supervising prof had over six hundred publications. Great, right? Except that his "research" was done by his students, and the papers were written by them too. He would get his name into it and send it off to IEEE or SIG*.

    This happens much more often than you care to count, so don't give much importance to number of publications.

  46. Anonymous said...

    Annoy #45, I do not know what type of papers that professor publish. Publishing a paper is not joke in any reputed journal even if you have manpower/student. If that professor is publishing good paper then he/she is doing greate job because contribution does not mean hard work, even if you are guiding student you are doing greate job. If you feel you can do this job, try to publish paper like that then you will realise, how much effort is required to publish a single paper in good journal.

    Please respect the person who contribute to science.

  47. Anonymous said...

    To the guy who did not want expatriate indians to come back or is totally shallow (@4).
    Dude if you got a chance you too will leave everything behind to go to foreign country and live a third class life as servile man. So shut and contribute to the discussion instead of passing your judgement.

  48. Anonymous said...

    I am a CSIR scientist recruited by Prof. Brahmachari, and would like to speak for the silent majority of CSIR scientists who like me (until recently) have little knowledge of blogworld. I have previously held tenure-track faculty appointment at a top-10 US institution, and one of my primary reasons to join CSIR was my gut feeling about Dr. Brahmachari's ability to deliver. I am happy to say that I have no regrets about joining CSIR, and can personally vouch for Dr. Brahmachari's capabilities as a visionary leader. I would also like to point out that in the world of grown-ups, it is not necessary that all confrontations have to have a hero and a villain. So why must we malign one, if we want to show merit in the other. Smart and well-intentioned people may have different visions and opinions. Dr. Ayyadurai was unable to work with his superior officers in a constructive manner and had to leave. His knowledge of his field, being a PhD from a reputed lab, is likely to be first-rate; but that is not what his job was about. There is a saying in Hindi "Ghar ki murgi dal barabar" which translates to "we lack respect for our own". I hope that we will not be blinded by such petty-mindedness in this case.

  49. Anonymous said...

    Sir you are full of sh..t. You should know better than to defend Bramchari. He should be fired for threatening NYT reporter. He has big ego, he must go. Shiv may be an ass but this guy is even a bigger ass. You wanted to be non productive so you moved to India. What's so great about that. Here you were under microscope 24/7 365 days a year. You are trying to tell us that we in America are all idiots. Thanks for you faith in US institutions. I have had many incompetent faculty members from India at my IVY league US university. I am sorry to say you must be one them. MERE BHARAT MAHAN. You had not heard of blogging and you claim to be this outstanding faculty. It is like saying email did not exist in 1966. Give me a break.

  50. Anonymous said...

    "Superior officers in a constructive manner" is not the kind language one uses in AMERICA. You are not going to fool us.
    Superior my ass.

  51. Anonymous said...

    My final post on this blog. My being outstanding or not was never the issue. Nor did I call people working in the US idiots. Being aware of blogs vs. being knowledgable are different things. Inability to recognize such differences is characteristic of strongly opinionated people charging at windmills. Yes, that is not American language but then I am not American. I have much regard for US institutions and nowhere did I state or imply that my leaving the US was because of disillusionment. It is sad that some of the people on this forum are so bitter about their own country that they cannot imagine anybody returning constructively and of free will. One thing I certainly learnt from Americans was to respect your country even if you differ on matters of policy.