Bangalore: Infosys founder NR Narayana Murthy said Tuesday the country faces huge challenges in the field of research in sciences despite the nation achieving the feat of producing Covid-19 vaccine and inoculating the people of India. Narayana Murthy said the death of 66 children in Gambia in Africa allegedly due to India-produced cough syrup had shamed the country.
Murthy was speaking at an event to present Infosys prize to six people by the ‘Infosys Science Foundation’. The prize carries a purse of USD 1,00,000.
Murthy lauded companies which manufactured and supplied the billion Covid-19 vaccines. Murthy said this was a huge achievement by any standard. The IT czar appreciated the rollout of the new national education policy, which is based on the recommendations of Professor Kasturirangan Committee.
The Infosys founder appreciated professor Gagandeep Kang and several others becoming fellows of the Royal Society in London, and professor Ashok Sen winning the Millenium prize.
“These are all encouraging and happy events that show that India is on a path of growth absolutely but we still have huge challenges,” the IT tycoon said. “There is not a single Indian institution of higher learning in the top 250 of the world university global ranking that was announced in 2020. Even the vaccines we have produced were either based on technology from advanced countries or based on research from the developed world. Consequently, we still have not produced a vaccine for dengue and chikungunya, which have been ravaging us for the last 70 years now,” Murthy pointed out.
“The death of 66 children in Gambia, resulting from an India-produced cough syrup has brought unimaginable shame to our country and has dented the credibility of our pharmaceutical regulatory agency,” Murthy added.
However, there was a solution, which is a difficult one, and according to Murthy, the country opted for it, he said. According to him, experts feel that India’s inability to use research to solve immediate pressing problems is due to lack of inculcating curiosity at an early age, disconnect between pure and applied research, inadequate cutting-edge research infrastructure in the higher educational institutions, insufficient grants and inordinate delays in creating incentives for research and inadequate fora for knowledge sharing with global research institutions.
The Infosys founder opined that money is not the primary resource for success in invention or innovation. Murthy said there were two components for success in research – the first component is to re-orient teaching in schools and colleges towards Socratic-questioning and relating what they learn in the classroom to the real-world problems around them, rather than passing the examinations through learning by rote. The second step is for researchers to focus on solving the immediate problems. Such a mindset would inevitably lead to solving bigger challenges, opined Murthy.
The IT industry icon said the IITs are becoming a victim of learning by rote, too. “Even our IITs have become victims of this syndrome, thanks to the tyranny of coaching classes,” Murthy asserted. He said the nation’s progress on the economic and social front depends on the quality of scientific and technological research.