ABSTRACT: The Parliament has recently passed a bill regarding constitution of an Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research (AcSIR) 1 . The first few doubts that would enter the mind of the common man are whether the Council of Scien-tific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is to have a new name, whether it is to be abolished, or whether AcSIR is to func-tion parallel to/under CSIR. It appears that CSIR will remain as such and AcSIR would be a body that awards Ph Ds to candidates enrolled for their doctorates in CSIR laboratories. The creation of AcSIR has raised many debates, including one in the Lok Sabha. CSIR has been the premier research organization of the Government of India for over 60 years, completely devoted to research in major scientific areas. Though autonomous, it gets ~ 90% of its funds – for payment of salaries and exe-cution of institutional research projects – from the government. Other government institutions such as the Department of Science and Technology, Department of Biotechnology, Indian Council of Medi-cal Research and state councils of scien-tific research provide funds to support various projects. This is public money, though many CSIR research laboratories project it as money earned from non-governmental sources. CSIR made a good mark in the inter-national scientific platform in the 1980s, with excellent research papers of high citation index and journals of high im-pact factor. This was primarily because of the high degree of devotion, honesty and mentoring qualities of the then direc-tors of its laboratories. In creating AcSIR, the one important and justified motive is the benefit to the research students who work in CSIR laboratories under CSIR scientists and use CSIR facilities, but who have to regi-ster in another university under one more guide who only has an administrative control on the student and signs his thesis/research communications without contributing anything. In many cases, these students are harassed at the time of submission of thesis and later on for viva and other formalities. The formation of the new Academy would enable CSIR to be a working-cum-thesis-awarding centre for these students. A Ph D in science is a coveted title in India and throughout the world and hence strict norms are followed during selection. A basic requirement to register for a Ph D in any university/institution in India is qualification in the NET exami-nation. However, some universities con-duct their own entrance examinations followed by an interview; a student can also pay a prescribed fee to register for a Ph D in some universities. In the context of AcSIR, the main crunch is in the selection of students. So far, the main mandate of CSIR has been research and not teaching. Who are the researchers in these institutes? Be-sides permanent scientists and technical staff, a team of temporary researchers like junior research fellows (JRFs), sen-ior research fellows (SRFs), research associates, research interns and project assistants work in CSIR institutes. JRFs are normally NET-qualified and become SRFs after two years if they have perfor-med well. Candidates with a specific research experience may be directly appointed through interview as SRFs. The enrolment of candidates through an examination or a settled procedure is justified. The future will reveal the actual number of bright candidates (NET-qualified) who have been enrolled for Ph D in AcSIR. The Academy will have to frame clear-cut guidelines regarding appoint-ment of teachers – from the CSIR system or outside it. The situation should not be that the chief of the Academy picks his men for lucrative teaching positions through a 'committee system'. All scien-tists cannot become professors or associ-ate professors. CSIR has already changed the nomenclature of its scientists, with effect from June 2011, as Chief Scientist, Senior Principal Scientist, Principal Sci-entist and so on. Indian science and CSIR have been going through 'good' and 'bad' phases. Let us hope that the formation of this new Academy will eventually do some good for Indian science, and that this platform will not be used to fulfil per-sonal goals and greed.
Current science 01/2012; 102(25). · 0.94 Impact Factor