A Nature Index analysis

Commentary

Published online 3 December 2015

Mr M. S. Unnikrishnan

Mr M. S. Unnikrishnan

Member, Apex Council for Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research and Managing Director and CEO, Thermax Limited

“As somebody from industry whose company is among the top spenders in R&D in India and which actively works with several IITs and other institutions on research projects, I am rather surprised to see that “in terms of links between industry and academia, the Nature Index reveals almost no domestic collaborations”.

While this could be explained as a factor of limited number of journals which the index makes use of, it is also true that most companies which enter R&D projects with academic institutions, do not envisage or target research paper or publication as the main output. In several instances, companies specifically bar researchers from publishing a significant portion of their research because of patent and copyright issues. Such research then stays away from the ambit of indices like the one brought out by Nature. To see this as a mark of poor linkages between industry and academia will be fallacious in my view.”

Dr Y. S. Rajan

Dr Y. S. Rajan

Chairman, NIT Manipur and Senior Honorary
Professor, ISRO

“In a country where the middle class is obsessed with second decimal points to decide admissions, ranking is a life-and-death affair. Several global ranking systems mix many parameters that are largely influenced by capital investment. Consequently, India gets ranked low in these systems. I am glad to see that CII and Nature Index have concentrated on one output parameter that can indicate quality scientific papers. It provides a more realistic assessment of the quality of institutions, and their strengths and weaknesses. India does fairly well, although there is a long way to go. A major takeaway from the study from an industrial and commercial technology viewpoint is that Indian institutions that have started working with foreign industries and institutions are partnering with Indian industries, albeit at limited levels.

CII can, and should, try to bring the four together, since it has connections with all four. It can take India forward in industry–academia linkages, which are not well as per Nature Index survey. Perhaps there is a need to also have an additional survey on intellectual property rights outputs and commercialization of R&D.”

Prof. R Natarajan

Prof. R Natarajan

Former Chairman, AICTE & Former Director, IIT Madras

One of the main reasons for India’s lacklustre performance in world university rankings (such as Shanghai Jiao Tong, Times Higher Education and Quacquarelli Symonds) over the years, is its poor score in the number of papers in high-impact journals and citation counts, although the criteria includes other factors, such as perception scores.

In terms of Nature Index, Indian institutions seem to have done well, especially for chemistry and physical science papers. The report highlights the shortcomings in Indian science, such as “bureaucracy, government indifference, unfair appointments (or appointments not based on experience), and lack of resources.” However, despite limited resources and complexities, the international science community seems to be still hopeful for Indian science.

Dr Baldev Raj

Dr Baldev Raj

Director, National Institute of Advanced Studies

“The CII–Nature Index Report on scientific research output from India is concise yet comprehensive. A few messages that emerge from it are that we need more investment in R&D by both industry and government. We also need to improve translational research, which leads to the creation of technology and patents. Statistics clearly demonstrate the capability of Indian science both in quality and quantity. De-bureaucratization and avoiding disruptions in funding of those individuals and institutes which are doing well are other critical parameters for our continued success.”

Prof. Indranil Manna

Prof. Indranil Manna

Director, Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur

Internationalisation, which is one of the focus of this report, is an important component of engineering education today. The Government of India and the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) are placing major emphasis on internationalisation of Indian campuses not just at the post-graduate and PhD level but also at the undergraduate level. IIT Kanpur is working on avenues to take foreign students at the undergraduate level specially from countries in the Saarc region, South East Asia, East Africa and the Middle East. Our aim is to create a mechanism through which we will be able to shortlist foreign students who will be on par with those in India who are able to clear the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). The launch of Imprint scheme, endorsed by the highest leadership in the country, shows the kind of value the Government is placing on taking a joint industry-institute partnership approach to research and focusing on solving the problems of the country. Imprint is different from all previous schemes created so far since it brings all IITs together for the first time. It envisages industry and academia working as joint collaborators with equal stakes in solving the country’s problems. The Government slogan today is Million Challenges, Billion Minds and we are all working towards tapping the potential of those billion minds.

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala

Prof. Ashok Jhunjhunwala

Professor, IIT Madras

“In addition to the research in pure science that this report highlights, a lot of work is also being done in India in engineering, which is more translational and relates to academia working closely with industry”.

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