Freedom of work is the first condition for good science to flourish. Finally, the government of India seems to have understood this truth. Freeing scientists from the shackles of civil service rules may soon be a reality.
The Prime Minister’s Office has given its nod to a proposal to let scientists create companies and hold an equity stake in such companies while continuing to be in government service.
If it works, the idea could see all-round gains. In return for such freedom, scientists would be expected to share intellectual capital or equity with their parent organization. This is a model that has worked well in advanced industrial nations. There’s no reason why it cannot work in India.
More importantly, scientists may get opportunities for lateral moves between industry and state-run labs. There are, of course, many hurdles before the proposal sees daylight. But it should be clear to all stakeholders that it is one way to propel Indian science ahead.