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'Like China, India should bring back scientists'

December 22, 2009 18:03 IST

Calling for "autonomy from red tape and local politics" in India, Nobel Laureate Indian-American scientist Venkataraman Ramakrishnan on Tuesday said many scientists of Indian origin may return home if the government made "attractive offers" to undertake research in science.

"We should give a lot of autonomy from bureaucracy, from red tape and from local politics so that they (Indian-origin scientists) can come. What they like to do is science," Ramakrishnan, winner of Nobel prize for chemistry, told reporters.

He said bureaucracy and politics were the dithering factors for the Indian scientists to return home. Since there was "too much" of bureaucracy and intervention of local politics in India, many scientists of Indian-origin living especially in the West were reluctant to come, he added.

"Make it attractive enough then they will continue to do good science while being in India. Then many of them might return," he said,  suggesting that Indian government take cue from its Chinese counterpart which had recently launched a scheme to bring back Chinese scientists settled abroad.

India can also take up a similar kind of initiative, Ramakrishnan, in Chennai for inauguration of A L Mudaliar Center for Basic Science Development at Madras University, said.

"I think people, who come back to India will have strong personal ties," he said adding that those who stayed back "feel they don't have the facilities".

Stating that it would be difficult for those Indians who had settled in US or Europe to return home, Ramakrishnan said, "In my case, I am married to someone, who is not an Indian at all. So it is not possible first".

However, the 57-year old scientist said there were two good scientists in his lab who would be coming back to Pune to start their own labs. They had published excellent papers.

"Certainly there is subset of people, who are doing very well and would certainly come back."

Expressing dissatisfaction over the student visa procedure in UK, he said "now it is now very hard to bring students fromoutside EU for short term projects due to visa regulation there, which I think are stupid."

Earlier, speaking at the inaugural session, he urged the students to appreciate science and not because of somebody giving Nobel award.

"We cannot pursue science for Nobel prize", he said adding there were thousands of "good" scientists who had not been recognised by the Nobel prize committee.

"It's a nice recognition for all the people who have worked hard for many years...but the other point of view is the prize is a distraction and I hope its only a temporary distraction because we still have lots of work to do scientifically..."

On Indian perspective in science field, he said lots of people were doing very good work of international quality.

"India needs a substantial investment and build large community of first rate scientists", he said.

"Having a supportive family willing to make the change in their lives for the sake of your work is crucial..I'm grateful for that...," he said.

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