Friday, November 30, 2012

MEMO FROM NARA


 
 

 

According to me, scientist has two roles to play – one is the hard-core science and the other soft-core science. In the hard – core one, the real science is handled as hypothesis – testing – inferring – forming theory and testing again. It requires hard work day and night. There is no office time for it. Laboratory, field or workshop is the site of hard-core science. On the other hand, the soft-core science constitutes, writing of research projects, publication of research results, teaching, training, conducting seminar etc. So a scientist has great responsibility of handling these two important aspects day in and day out. All scientists are paid salary to perform these functions both in private and public concerns. They are also evaluated by competent authorities time to time.

 

One thing we need to keep in mind is that scientists are also human beings. They do have emotions and desires. They are part of the society. They have family and friends. Therefore we find some deviations in their behavior to meet the character of a scientist. Faking results, copying, cooking up data, publishing non-repeatable results, copying others’ results, plagiarism, mishandling project money, harassing subordinates and students – are some of the unpleasant activities we hear time to time. We all know that only a few do all these things. But the scientific community gets a bad reputation in the minds of public. Therefore scientists have to be careful in their duty and safeguard the sanctity of science.

 

As a Plant Physiologist for more than 30 years in Agricultural Science, I learned many things which were conveyed at various occasions to my fellow Plant Physiologists who heard me with keen interest and patience, but only few followed my suggestions. However, I am happy that today’s young scientists have gone far away from the old science and explored the unexplored with the help of modern knowledge and equipments. The advancement of biotechnology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and bio-informatics is helping the modern day science to progress and produce fantastic results which are very much needed for all of us.

 

However, I find a growing dissatisfaction among the scientific community because of the bad attitudes of some of the so-called senior scientists who occupy high positions. I always hear such murmuring from the mouths of many young and even old scientists whenever I happened to interact with them. I am 75, still I feel a pleasure to talk to young agricultural scientists. Most of them have a negative thinking at the scientific institutions and the administration. Science is a bias less subject, but many a time leaders in these institutions are biased and thus the young minds are poisoned and work against the spirit of science.

 

One of the best ways to avoid such attitudes is to train scientists by some management gurus. Scientific management requires handling of plants, animals, electronic equipment and above all highly qualified human beings. Of course I know there is an Institute for Research Management. But we need to have facilities for scientist management. Basically this has to start at the post-graduate level of study or at the early stages of entering service. I wish someone thinks the possibility of changing the attitude of scientists so that science remains as science forever.

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