Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy has come down heavily on the state of scientific research as it exists today in India. He said that even though two Indian companies produced the Covid vaccines during the pandemic, India still lags behind in technology and research. He also added that the Covid vaccines are based on technology or research from developed countries and that India hasn't developed a vaccine for dengue or chikungunya yet.
The IT stalwart also excoriated the state of education, especially technical and scientific education in India. Talking about the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), the Infosys co-founder pointed out that even the much-vaunted IITs have become victims of what he called 'the tyranny of coaching classes.'
"The first component is to reorient our teaching in schools and colleges towards Socratic questioning and relating what they learn in the classroom to the real world around them rather than passing examinations by rote learning. Even our IITs have become victims of this syndrome, thanks to the tyranny of coaching classes," he said.
He also noted that though many Indians have won many prestigious awards, not a single Indian institution of higher education exists in the top 250 of the World University rankings in 2022.
Speaking at the Infosys prize announcement event in Bengaluru on Tuesday, Murthy added that many experts feel that India's inability to use research to solve immediate pressing problems is due to problems in existing education system, inadequate cutting-edge research infrastructure in the higher educational institutions, insufficient grants and others.
Murthy said that research in the sciences is very important for a developing country like India that aspires to join the developed world.
“Research thrives in an environment of honor and respect for intellectuals, meritocracy, and the support and approbation they receive from the society. Therefore, recognising and rewarding the outstanding research efforts of Indian researchers is necessary… Scientific research is about curiosity, daring, healthy skepticism, and questioning the status-quo," he said.
Murthy, who is also a trustee of the Infosys Science Foundation, noted that India should focus on scientific research success, where both education pattern and money have important roles to play. He said the Indian education should undergo major changes at the base level.
The Infosys co-founder also mentioned that it was a matter of unimaginable shame that an India-made cough syrup was responsible for the deaths of 66 children in Gambia, and that it has dented the credibility of the country's pharmaceutical regulatory agency.
The Infosys Science Foundation (ISF) on Tuesday announced the winners of the Infosys Prize 2022 in six categories – Engineering and Computer Science, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.
The winners are: Engineering and Computer Science - Suman Chakraborty; Humanities - Sudhir Krishnaswamy; Life Sciences - Vidita Vaidya; Mathematical Sciences - Mahesh Kakde; Physical Sciences - Nissim Kanekar, Social Sciences - Rohini Pande.
The 14th edition of awards was attended by the trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation -- Kris Gopalakrishnan, Srinath Batni, K. Dinesh, Mohandas Pai, Salil Parekh, and S D Shibulal.
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