CSIR to set up university

CSIR to set up university

New Delhi: The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, or CSIR, the country’s largest publicly funded research body, plans to set up a university to increase the number of doctoral candidates which, scientists say, is crucial to boosting research output.

Indian scientists have often raised concerns over the quantity of research publication output compared with that of China—which they insist is mainly because of shortage of doctoral candidates.

“It’s always doctoral and post doctoral students who do all the research work. So lack of students means lack of research," said Raghunath Mashelkar, former director general of CSIR.

The proposed university—the CSIR Advanced Institutes of Science and Technology—will be spread across CSIR’s 38 laboratories. Resident scientists at each laboratory will double up as teachers, said a senior CSIR official who said he can’t be named because the proposal is yet to get cabinet approval.

With a technical staff of at least 12,500 that includes 4,500 scientists, CSIR has a big faculty to choose from, and most of them are involved in industrial research that emphasizes generating patents and publications.

Students who wish to pursue their doctoral studies at CSIR now must first sign up with another university and have to comply with the rules and regulations of both the university and the research body.

“Our primary aim is to boost the number of quality PhDs (doctors of philosophy) and free students from the bureaucratic requirements of signing up with one university and pursuing research at a CSIR lab," the official said.

The official added that the institution could be among the 14 so-called “world class" universities that Arjun Singh, Union minister for human resources development, had announced in March.

Once the university is set up, the research organization hopes to generate 1,500 PhDs a year, up from the current 400.

Though there are no precise estimates for the deficit in the number of PhDs from India, N. Balakrishnan, associate director of the Bangalore-based Indian Institute of Science said the Chinese university system produced 16,000 PhDs as compared with India’s 4,000, in 2006-2007.

Moreover, as reported in Mint on 19 June, only 2.4% of the total research publications in 2006-2007 were from India compared with 10.49% from China.

The research was conducted by the National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies, or NISTADS, a CSIR body, using a database called Scopus, that hosts around 15,000 international peer reviewed journals in science and technology.

“In case India has to catch up with China, it has to quadruple its publications growth rate to at least 30% per annum by 2010," said B.M. Gupta, lead author of the study and a professor at NISTADS.