In modern times, the status of the scientists is not at the par level as it was in olden times. Recently, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh has said that scientists do not get the respect they deserve in our country. They are undoubtedly an important asset of the country.
In a program of Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), the Defence Minister said that people do not know about the contribution of scientists. Rajnath Singh also expressed that the contribution of scientists is not less than that of Army, Navy or Air Force. Just as the army protects the country, scientists also protect the country.
It has often been seen that the great scientists, engineers and innovators from India migrate to other countries. There are two major reasons for this, first, that the conditions for research in India are difficult, whether it is economic conditions or the lack of equipment and research. Another and most common reason is that the new innovators, scientists do not get the respect, admiration and freedom to research what they want to.
Many scientists have migrated from India to other countries and did exemplary inventions there. For example, Sabir Bhatia, the inventor of Hotmail, who was born in Chandigarh, India moved to the US and developed Hotmail. The venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson named him ‘Entrepreneur of the Year 1997’, MIT chose him as one of the 100 young innovators who are expected to have the greatest impact on technology and awarded ‘TR100’.
Similarly, there is another US-based Indian, Ajay Bhatt who invented USB drive or pen drive. He too was born in India and graduated from the same but then he moved to America. Today he has 132 US and international patents to his name and several other patents in the line.
The inventors and scientists have been respected in India since the early times. For example, ‘Vishwakarma’, who engineered weapons for other Gods, has got the status of God in Sanatan Dharma. Mahabharat also follows the same example where graduated Brahmins were given high status in the society by Yudhishthira.
Also for these ‘Mahamanas’ and graduates, Yudhishthira used to bear the expenses of their research. This description is found in Shanti Parva Chapter 45 of Mahabharata. According to this chapter, Kunti’s son Yudhishthira, after attaining the kingdom, first settled the four varnas in their respective places according to their duties. Thereafter, Panduputra Yudhishthira brought one thousand gold coins to each of the thousands of Mahamana graduating Brahmins.
Not only this, the history of India is full of such stories. During the Gupta period which is also known as ‘Golden Age’, India made unprecedented progress in the fields of literature, art and science.
At that time, Nalanda University in Magadha was a major and renowned centre of knowledge. ‘Aryabhata’, who discovered the Zero in the number system, belonged to that time.
According to an ancient verse, Aryabhata was also the chancellor of Nalanda University. Aryabhata was a great astrologer and mathematician of ancient India. He composed the Aryabhatiya treatise, which presents many theories of astrology.
The solar system was discovered by Aryabhata thousands of years before of Copernicus (1473 to 1543 AD).
Varahamihira was also an Indian mathematician and astronomer of the same period. In Kusumpur (Patna), young Mihir met the great astronomer and mathematician Aryabhatta. Ujjain was also the centre of learning at that time. Many centres of art, science and culture were flourishing there under the Gupta rule. Vikramaditya Chandragupta II included them in the ‘Navaratnas’ of his court. Mihir travelled to distant countries, even to Greece. In the same way, Bhaskar I and Brahmagupta were also astrologers of the same period and made many discoveries. They all were well recognized by their kings.
Similarly, Sushruta, in the field of medicine, Nagarjuna in Chemistry and Rishi Kanad in Physics are named who did great discoveries and Bharat was made proud. In the medieval period also, the innovators were encouraged, which enabled them to develop new technologies. Observatories were established by Sawai Jaisingh in Mathura, Delhi, Jaipur, Varanasi and Ujjain in the 18th century, which led to many kinds of research. Jai Singh Kai Dastar’s mathematician Pt. Jagannath also translated Euclid’s Geometry and Ptolemy’s Astrology from Arabic to Sanskrit.
Soon after attaining independence, the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, pledged to awaken the scientific temper among the people for the scientific development of the country. It was because of his scientific approach that he entrusted this task to Dr Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar.
Similarly, Scientists like Jagdish Chandra Bose, C.V. Raman, Homi Jahangir Bhabha, Vikram Sarabhai were supported by Nehru and they invented many new technologies while living in India.
Migration became unstoppable, and now about one lakh scientists and engineers of Indian origin live in the US alone. The number of immigrant scientists and engineers in the US has increased from 16 per cent to 18 per cent in the past. India is the top country which gave birth to immigrant scientists and engineers, with 9,50,000 out of Asia’s total 2.96 million. There are several factors for this kind of brain drain originating from India:
- Very high salaries paid in foreign countries.
- Lack of adequate employment opportunities in India.
- Non-availability of avenues to utilize education and skills.
- The hope of a better and comfortable lifestyle abroad.
- Prestige involved in working in foreign countries.
- To gain financial well-being and capability to buy assets in India.
- The belief that working abroad improves marriage prospects in India.
- Prospects of continually learning newer technologies and upgrading skills.
But the most important factor is the popularity and celebrity status that cricket players or film artists of our country get.
Scientists in the country do not get that status and importance whereas in America it is exactly the opposite where they get recognition and their work is also recognized.
This government has started paying attention to it from the beginning. In the year 2014, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Jitendra Singh told in the Lok Sabha that the new government is not only providing a better working environment to the scientists, but they are also being given attractive packages. For this reason, many migrant scientists applied to return to India.
If we look at the recent examples, the way Chandrayaan 2’s testing has increased the curiosity and respect in the Vikram Lander country and the way the entire country was with Scientists on ISRO’s contribution is an important example in today’s time. Further, the country needs to encourage scientists and new innovators to research in India and to patent their inventions in the name of India, which will embolden the name of the country in golden letters. For this, it is necessary that the government should treat the scientific breakthroughs in the country in the same way as cricketers and film celebrity is treated. Also, there is a need to provide the scientific atmosphere, equipment for new scientific discovery.