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

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R&D Deception and Media’s Role

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A news item in a leading English daily late last year had the eye-catching headline, “SAP to Set Up Another R&D Campus in Bengaluru” (1 December 2018). Unfortunately, this article and many others like it that regularly grace the pages of Indian newspapers, are quite misleading. As a matter of fact, most multinational companies (including European ones like SAP) do no research to speak of in India. (A few United States [US]) companies do, but not all. For instance, Google does no research in India though it is headed by an Indian American.) These companies also have zero involvement with the research ecosystem (academia, government research and development [R&D] labs, etc) in India. Not too long ago, the director of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi offered the candid opinion, “When I do research, I find it easier to work with Intel in the US or Portland, than the Bengaluru branch. The kind of work Intel is doing in Bengaluru is not next-generation technology.”

Many industry research labs have also been shuttered in the past decade or so: HP Labs, GM India Science Labs, Infosys Labs, Bell Labs India, EMC, etc, have all been wound up. Unfortunately, of course, the same disdain for research is largely true of Indian companies (including information technology [IT] companies) as well. One would be hard-pressed to name any Indian IT company that produces any world-class product through its own research, or which devotes more money to R&D than to public relations and marketing.

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