1. Letters to the editor

Letters to the editor

Apropos of “IITs now have to focus on R&D which can impact society: Prof U B Desai” (FE, August 23), professor Desai is right in saying that IITs have to focus on R&D that benefits society.

By: | Published: August 29, 2016 6:22 AM

The purpose of research

Apropos of “IITs now have to focus on R&D which can impact society: Prof U B Desai” (FE, August 23), professor Desai is right in saying that IITs have to focus on R&D that benefits society.

This applies to other universities and central research laboratories as well. It should no longer be “publish or perish” but a “socially innovate (or) forfeit privileges & perks” attitude that should dictate research.

Vijay Chandru (chairman of Strand Life Sciences & a member of the NITI Aayog) laments that although the original aim of Indian universities was to innovate for the material benefit of the society, they have been reduced to havens for researchers keen only on publishing in top journals and placing post-graduate students in centers of excellence—with there being little social accountability (although there are many exceptions like the Wireless in Loop technology, plastic roads, or the recent Sathyabhamasat satellite designed to monitor green house gases, etc) only. The situation is worse given the lack of third-party reviews. Thankfully, a pan-IIT and

The situation is worse given the lack of third-party reviews. Thankfully, a pan-IIT and IISc joint initiative called IMPRINT India was launched last year to undertake research into 10 select themes that are of immediate benefit to the society like energy security, water resources and river systems, environmental science and climate change, healthcare, etc.

Hence, Indian varsities better get their act together by embarking on a radical overhaul of their curriculum and tailoring it to meet the needs of the society. After all, hadn’t Gandhiji observed, “Recall the face of the poorest and the most helpless man whom you have seen and ask yourself whether the step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him”?

CV Krishna Manoj, Hyderabad

Scorpene leaks

If a stealth submarine has lost the details of its stealth capability, it amounts to losing its utility. The leak of the data on the fleet of stealth submarines to be inducted into the Indian Navy has come as startling and unsettling news.

Statements like ‘it was a case of hacking’, ‘the leaked data is not current’, ‘the leak is not 100%’ and ‘a lot of final integration is still with India’ have been made to downplay the gravity of the leak. For us, the leaked has happened matters more than how and why it happened. This is not to say that it is not important to know the source of the leak and the possible ‘corporate rivalry’ behind the leak to decide how to go about with clinching defence deals with foreign manufacturers. The massive leak jeopardises India’s marine defence preparedness.

The leak of classified information on the operational capabilities of the stealth submarines running into 22,400 pages provide intelligence bonanza to India’s strategic rivals. For us, $3.5 billion being spent on building the Scorpene submarine fleet is no small amount. The government must lose no time to take remedial action and reassure the nation.

G David Milton, Maruthancode (TN)

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