Searching for research 

               Our policy makers, with their clerical mind-set, would always think of numbers and nothing better can be expected from them. So       those responsible for the diminishing research ethics are the academicians who can not resist the temptation of pulling a fast one for personal benefits, writes Dr. H.C. Pande
When the politicians pull a fast one or two,it is no surprise.Fraud is their bread and butter,their life breath.But when the same is perpetrated by the academicians it becomes a serious cause of concern.One talks about the hole in the Ozone layer endangering the life on earth,and ,measures for the reduction of CO2 emissions,are now a universal priority.However,the rapidly expanding hole,in the fabric of academic ethics, and,objectivity,is yet to hit the headlines,as a major developing calamity..The hole is being caused by the emission of counterfeit research work or plain chicanery,and, needs immediate attention.The quest for truth is turning into a quest for doctoral degrees,and,publishing research papers by the dozen,most of which need
researching,to find out if these have added,anything at all,to the existing body of knowledge.Exceptions apart,a worrisome ,and,growing number of the research papers are,largely,a collection of data or review of existing knowledge.This is hard work,and,useful work,no doubt,but contributes only to ,knowing the known,and,not quite research,which is knowing the unknown.For outstanding research work,carried out in India,one can only cite S.N.Bose,C.V.Raman and M.N.Saha.
There are many other outstanding researchers but their research work was carried out abroad.The point is that by giving importance to quantity and not quality,the research environment has become infertile where,other than weeds,nothing can grow.It is wrong to blame the young researcher for this situation.The very best seeds can not sprout if sown in wasteland.The academic institutions are the worst offenders in this regard,but they alone are not to blame.The policy makers at the MHRD and the UGC have to understand that,as a senior academic has aptly put forth ,”The fruits of research are for everyone,but research is not for everyone.” This is not a snide remark to run down someone but the ground truth.A good teacher need not be a good researcher and vice versa.A good teacher is as important as a good researcher and together they are the main pillars of a university.The clerical fiat of MHRD,that all teachers must be Ph.D.’s,and,the supine acceptance of the same,by the UGC has resulted in the universities churning out Doctorates by the hundreds.And worse still,by giving weightage to the number,but,not the content,of research papers,in the matter of promotions,has caused ‘Research warehouses’ to spring up both within and outside the universities where dissertations are available over the counter.
The serious outcome,under the pressure of the prevailing dictates, is the creation of a class of academic mercenaries ready to dress up,thanks to the variety of computer software availability,any written stuff,for presentation as a thesis,dissertation or whatever.
The numbers in this brigade continue to increase and so is the hole in the academic ethics and objectivity.Any number of such meaningless work can be cited.The real tragedy is that even the top institutions are getting sucked Into this  quagmire.At an interview,in a central university,a candidate holding a Ph.D. from an apex institution was asked to asked to justify the appropriateness of the mathematical model he had chosen for the analysis of his problem ,he had no answer as,the choice was fundamentally wrong,which even an undergrad could tell.
This thesis,therefore,meant only a wasted effort by the research student  adding nothing new to the body of knowledge but only increasing the number of Ph.D s awarded by the institution concerned.It so happened that one of the experts was,from the relevant department,of the degree awarding institute and on being questioned he shrugged his shoulders and remarked that they have a quota to meet.So also,another candidate when asked to explain the significance of some of the graphs included in his thesis,was silent,because the graphs in question had no relevance to the problem and had been added only to fatten the body of the thesis.Exceptions apart,a thesis now is like a misshapen sandwich.A whole lot of pages on what is already known as the base slice,and,a whole lot of pages of bibliography as the top slice.The middle slice of own findings is very thin,and,often enough,missing.
Our policy makers,with their clerical mind-set,would always think of numbers and nothing better can be expected from them.So those responsible for the diminishing research ethics are the academicians who can not resist the temptation of pulling a fast one for personal benefits.What a tragedy!
Dr. H.C. Pande, Ph.D., D.Sc. (h.c.)
Vice Chancellor Emeritus,
Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi
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