Indian Scientists and R&D

I read a story recently how the only Nobel Laureate of science from India failed to explain his Raman Effect to her mother, Parvati Ammal to her satisfaction, though he tried his best to elucidate his discovery to best of his ability. As reported, “Raman worked all his life in India with the instruments that were available to him. He spent only Rs 2 to construct his instrument spectrograph. ”

The media can, if it wishes, play an active role in building the knowledge economy.

Indian media hardly quenches the thirst of few interested in knowing the developments in science and technology in the country. But I get excited to read the few that I come across:

Indian defence scientists have developed a technology to package rotis designed to stay edible for 15 days and are hoping the civilian market will consume it with their version of a dal with a shelf life of 12 months.” Indian society perhaps needs today such technologies with kitchen loosing the charm.

“A prototype of an innovative air-conditioning system run by renewal energy, designed by two BIT-Patna students, has been awarded Bry-Air Awards for Excellence in HVAC & R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and research).” In India’s climatic conditions the exponentially increasing number of airconditioners with affluence must be adding a lot of heat in the atmosphere and warming it. Innovators must go for a solar powered airconditioner and a system where it doesn’t warm the atmosphere.

A scientist from Jaipur, Prof Y K Vijay, Director of Center for Development of Physics Education at University of Rajasthan, has found an easy and affordable way to increase the fuel efficiency of a car using water.

After writing the blog based on Forbes India special issue on Indian Science Second Coming, I was a little morose as all the 18 of them have been working away from the country. I was trying to think of listing some great ones working in India. While Ramans are scarce commodity these days, I was wondering if the ecosystem in India is not conducive enough to get more and more students joining scientific research.

I came across a special issue of ‘India Today’ that had listed the following from different fields:

Pradyut Ghosh in the laboratory of the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) opposite Jadavpur University, Kolkata, is focusing on developing molecules that will free potable water from excess fluoride.

Sivananda Pai heads the Long Range Forecasting (LRF) division of the India Metrological Department (IIMD) in Pune and has introduced a new forecasting system in statistical approach, the world’s first such system.

Upinder S. Bhalla at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore focuses on a very broad area of how the brain works and how it reacts to sensorial stimuli.

Partha Pratim Majumder of the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics (NIMBG) in Kalyani is endeavouring to identify genomic alterations in oral cancer,

Bharat R. Char and Usha Barwale-Zehr spearheaded the research of India’s first genetically modified (GM) food, Bt brinjal, produced by the Maharashtra Hybrid Seeds Company Limited.

Vishwanath Mohan, chairman of Dr Mohan’s Diabetes Specialties Centre, has devoted a lifetime researching diabetes and its complications, particularly cardiovascular disease.

Ashoke Sen at Allahabad’s Harish-Chandra Research Institute has been working on string theory which tries to give a unified description of all matter and the forces we observe in nature.

Krishna N. Ganesh conducted breakthrough research in artificial DNA synthesis to diagnose a disease more accurately at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad.

Subramaniam Ganesh has attempted to understand the biology behind inherited disorders that affect the brain at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur.

Swapan Kumar Datta at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research, Delhi has focused in the field of genetic modification (GM) of rice.

V.K. Gupta aims to evaluate the potential of waste rubber tyres as an inexpensive sorbent material for wastewater treatment.

Paramjit Khurana at at Delhi University’s Department of Plant Molecular Biology has been working on creating all-weather crops that could increase the country’s productivity manifold.

Atul Gurtu, the particle physicist, participated in the experiment to decode the working of the universe at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland.

Ratan Kumar Sinha
, a mechanical engineering graduate from Patna University, has developed a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre.

Chetan E. Chitnis is working at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, is the man behind the lead vaccine against the Plasmodium falciparum parasite, which binds to red blood cells (RBC), causing the disease.

Mitali Mukerji, from the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi is focusing her research to understand genome variations in relation to susceptibility to disease for eventually providing personalized medicine.

Avadhesha Surolia, director of the National Institute of Immunology, Delhi, developed a new approach to the treatment of diabetes.

Amalendu Krishna work at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), relates to algebraic cycles and K-theory with no immediate application, but in future may come in handy to prove physical formulas, develop computer tools to make them faster and more efficient, make the internet work faster.

Virender Singh Sangwan is conducting what is the largest ongoing human trial of stem cell technology anywhere at the L.V. Prasad Eye Institute in Hyderabad.

Ajay Sood created history in 2003 when his team generated electricity by passing liquid or gas through carbon nanotubes at the Indian Institute of Science (IISC) in Bangalore.

J.N. Goswami, the principal scientist of India’s moon mission succeeded in tracing water molecules on the moon for the first time ever.

Charusita Chakravarty, professor, Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, works on the development and application of quantum and classical computer simulation methods to understand properties of liquids.

Satyajit Mayor have been trying to decode the mysterious ways in which a cell works to apply that information to HIV research, stem cell differentiation, tumorigenesis and cancer treatments at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore.

Siva Umapathy, 52, has a template ready for early cancer detection and is attempting to find ‘biomarkers’ in cells using Raman spectroscopy, the Indian Institute of Science (IIS).

B. Sesikeran is the man who made available the knowhow for double fortified salt (DFS), with iodine and iron, to the 10 leading salt manufacturers in the country.

It provides a glimpse of some Indian scientists busy in cutting edge researches; No doubt, it is just a sample out of thousands of other smaller and bigger ones working in different fields of scientific researches in India. But still the question that haunts is: Is India rising in R&D in science?

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