Nobel Prize in Science: India`s Elusive Dream

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By R.K. Gartia

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” – Buddha

Dreams are part of human life. Individuals dream, so do organizations and nations. Dreams can be positive or negative, the later is general being predominant. Ever since the entry of C.V. Raman into the Nobel Laureate’s club and subsequent draught from 1930 a question has often arise in the mind of educated Indians; Can Indians in India win Nobel Prize in Science? Looking into the global scenario of science it is clear: India’s dream of Nobel Prize in Science is elusive. Indians have remote chance of winning the coveted prize.

Following the recent declaration of Nobel Prize for 2013 as usual discussion have opened up, one being published in “The Economics Times” (14th Oct’ 2013) by Hari Pulakkat is pretty interesting. Pulakkat’s message in clear term is: Aversion to intellectual risk is the reason why Indian Scientists do not get Nobel Prize. Is it not a social phenomenon that we have aversion to risk in all spheres?

Getting into deep beyond the behavior pattern of most Indians we need to realize that front ranking research today is no more individualistic. It is a complex activity involving groups of people from all over the world. Cyberspace has dissolved the geographical and political boundaries. Some collaborative programmes are gigantic, beyond comprehension of most, in terms of money, man and machine. Gone are the days geniuses toiling with their few students and assistants in the dingy laboratories of Universities. It is the era of organization like CERN that runs the large Hadron Collider, World’s biggest particle accelerator costing billions to build and operate, involving thousands of scientist and equally large number of smart engineers. Thanks to the CERN’s endeavor that confirmed the Higgs’ bosans, Peter Higgs of Britain and Francis Englert of Belgium have been declared as winner of Nobel Prize’ 2013 in Physics.

Alas! CERN did not get the Prize in spite of the great, possibly the greatest discovery that mankind has witnessed in term of complexity of the design of the machines involved. By tradition the Prize in Science is not awarded to organizations. Not so far the Prize for Peace. It has obvious reasons. Science is one activity distinctly different in terms of its flavour.

Indian science is in a pathetic state. Serious students are interested in other market driven disciplines. Government has launched various programmes, new Institutes, new Universities. The constraints of scientific equipments have been reasonably solved. What lacks is real involvement. Most of the so called top Institutions and top Scientists lack originality; they chase ideas floated in the West. In many quarters Scientists who are supposed to create knowledge have withdrawn from the real competition. They have found escape mechanisms like singing the songs of their promoters or somehow creeping into collaboration with the West as junior partners. A lesson to remember is:

“Followers are not Leaders”.

CERN: An Incubator for Nobel Prize

The name CERN is derived from the acronym for the French “Conseil European Pour la Recher che Nuclearire”, i.e. European Council for Nuclear Research in English. It was founded in 1954 with 20 members’ states to probe the fundamental structure of the Universe.

Over 600 Institutes/Universities spread around the globe use CERN’s ultramodern facilities that are comprised of World’s largest and most complex equipments. With its outstanding facilities coupled with unprecedented standard of management it may be truly called an incubator for Nobel Prize. It is a burning example of the complexity of modern path breaking Science (Nobel materials) where individuals practically become invisible.

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