ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Creative Collaboration

   Creative Collaboration The poor and deteriorating state of scientific and industrial research today, both in the state-run institutions and in the private sector, is well documented. Recent attempts to rejuvenate the system have not had much success. The initiative of bringing in

The poor and deteriorating state of scientific and industrial research today, both in the state-run institutions and in the private sector, is well documented. Recent attempts to rejuvenate the system have not had much success. The initiative of bringing in ‘new blood’ by inducting at the top scientists from non-CSIR institutions has run into grave problems from the lower hierarchies that have dominated these institutions and more or less run them into the ground. And the ‘new blood’ has quickly leaked out. With great enthusiasm the scientific advisors to the government have persuaded the centre to allocate a sum of Rs 150 crore for encouraging research in the pharmaceuticals sector, but norms and regulations for its use are as yet to be finalised. Similarly, while tax incentives of various kinds have been announced for R and D expenditure in the sector, the process of deciding on modalities and criteria of eligibility has yet to begin. And determining which particular R and D effort deserves these sops, as the government is proposing to do, is not going to be an easy exercise and will undoubtedly lead to leakage of funds. What, after all, will be the government’s criteria for deciding whether the concessions are ‘deserved’? And what will be the basis for deciding what is relevant? Who will decide this? The ministry? The medical profession? Pharmaceutical consumer groups? Would it not be wiser to put in place guidelines which indicate the broad areas of research, but prescribe mandatory norms perhaps for all research institutions to put in place committees which will ensure against potentially harmful consequences of research activities? This way bureaucratic tangles are kept at a minimum and control is where it will be most effective – at the local level.

The problem is that scientific research continues to be viewed as an isolated enterprise, with industry and the market coming into the reckoning only at later stages. Unless state-run institutions interact more actively with industry, R and D will continue to be in a rut, lacking dynamism. This is, in fact, what was sought to be achieved with the induction of non-CSIR scientists to head CSIR institutions and the effort needs to be pursued more determinedly. More recently, the CSIR has also forged collaborations with Indian corporates which have been associated with international companies – for example, the recent agreement with Nicholas Piramal on genomic research in its various laboratories. Piramal Enterprises has an agreement with Bupa of UK which is a health care provider. The agreement is to foster work in the area leading to new product lines in health care.

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