Indian Computer Science (CS) & Information Technology (IT) Academic Reform Activism Consolidated Blog Document

UGC seeks details on Ph.D. candidates in state universities

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UGC seeks details on Ph.D. candidates in state universities

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This is a very relevant article for PhD scholars and their supervisors in UGC regulated universities. It appeared in The Hindu yesterday, "UGC seeks details on M.Phil, Ph.D admissions",

This seems to apply to state universities and so I am not sure whether it will immediately apply to deemed universities as well. Key points relevant to PhD scholars and supervisors are:

  • Are PhD scholars allowed (given enough time, I presume, is what it means) to pursue research after finishing the course work?

  • Is publication of one research paper in a refereed journal made mandatory before the PhD thesis is submitted? Note it is just a refereed journal and there is no mention of any impact factor associated with the journal.

  • Is the thesis being evaluated by at least two experts, one from another state or abroad?

  • Is the candidate having to defend his/her thesis and has s/he undergone a viva-voce examination?

The article mentioned that Andhra Pradesh state has some universities where PhD scholars are more than the PG students! And, in some cases, they run into thousands! [Ravi: My God, so PhDs will either be already flooding the job market or will do so in the near future.]

Science Research

Discussion/Informative Posts Involving Others' Articles/Views, Media reports and Some Comments from me

Great article about Fields Medal winner Manjul Bhargava and his blend of Maths, music & poetry (incl. Sanskrit poems) interests, August 2014

Nature April 2014 article - Policy: Free Indian science by Dr. Mathai Joseph et al., April 2014

Jayant Narlikar, famous Indian astrophysicist, on Dr. Joseph's Nature article about Indian science policy problems, May 2014

A Hard Look at the Indian Scientific Establishment, December 2013
Whistle-blowing on the Internet - Solution for problem of Science Fraud?, April 2014

Suspended jail sentence for scientific fraud for South Korean scientist, March 2014

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Great article about Fields Medal winner Manjul Bhargava and his blend of Maths, music & poetry (incl. Sanskrit poems) interests

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Last updated on August 22nd 2014

An old friend passed on this link, The Musical, Magical Number Theorist,, which I found to be a great read giving insights about the prodigy that Manjul Bhargava,, seems to be as well as some details of his prodigious accomplishments. The article also covers Bhargava's blend of interests in Mathematics, Music (Tabla) and poetry (including old Sanskrit manuscripts capturing some Mathematics in poems). I must also mention that I did not understand some of the Mathematics references in the article :).

The sub-title of the article is interesting, "The search for artistic truth and beauty has led Manjul Bhargava to some of the most profound recent discoveries in number theory."

And I think the first two paragraphs of the article summarize Bhargava's interests and approach quite well. I have given below the second small paragraph of the article

Bhargava’s mathematical tastes, formed in his earliest days, are infused with music and poetry. He approaches all three realms with the same goal, he says: “to express truths about ourselves and the world around us.”

--- end extract ---

One of the correspondents to whom the mail having the link was sent (it was sent to a group of old friends/ex-colleagues) mentioned something to the effect that Bhargava could make it big because he was in the USA. Had Bhargava been in India he would not have flourished due to Indian bureaucracy.

My response (slightly edited) was:

Sure, Bhargav was able to make it big far more easily in the USA than in India. But I am not sure if that's the fault of Indian bureaucrats. I think the issue is related to economic prosperity of USA as against developing nation status of India. To make it a little concrete, states that Princeton has an endowment, as of 2013, of over $18 billion!!! [Bhargava is with Princeton now and had also spent time in Harvard.] Harvard's figure is 32 billion, Yale is 20 billion and Stanford is 18 billion. These seem to be in the top five universities in USA by endowment. states, "By endowment per student, Princeton is the wealthiest school in the United States."

Further, "Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey." I think Harvard, Yale and Stanford too are private universities. I.e. Government does not pay salaries and other expenses of these universities, though these universities may win research grants from govt. funded institutions like the National Science Foundation,

As I have been reading up a little on Indian academia I think I can say that India has no private university which is anywhere close to these universities in terms of funding (endowment). The premier research (and teaching) institutions of India - IITs, IISc, IIMs are all heavily, if not fully, govt. funded institutions. While the faculty there are treated with great deal of respect I don't think the research environment can match the US private Ivy league universities, mainly because of the huge difference in financial outlay. Further, I think that fair bit of additional responsibilities are put on faculty of these elite institutions.

Regarding Indian bureaucracy vis-a-vis Indian academia, I think elite Indian universities are treated with a lot of respect by Indian bureaucrats (of MHRD). Most internal administrative matters including hiring and promotion, I think, are handled by academics in administrative positions in these universities with bureaucrats not daring to interfere. I mean, if MHRD bureaucrats try to interfere with such things in an IIT or IISc the top scientists may complain directly to the Prime Minister directly. These top scientists of elite institutions have that sort of access and carry a lot of clout with the govt.

I should also add that nowadays the research setup in these elite Indian universities seems to be pretty good in comparison to what it was some decades ago. I think that is due to India's improved economic condition leading to significantly more money being provided to these institutions. Money for going abroad for interactions with top foreign scientists also does not seem to be a big issue for academics/researchers of these elite institutions. For fields like Mathematics which do not need very expensive labs., I think elite Indian institutions today may be quite a decent place.

--- end response ---

Another friend said something to the effect that we should set aside India, America ... and enjoy Bhargava's accomplishments. I agreed with her. And added:
BTW I was Honorary Staff/Honorary Faculty/Visiting Faculty for nine years (2003 to 2011) in a Dept. of Mathematics & Computer Science, which was far more of a Mathematics dept. than a computer science dept. For these Maths guys the Fields Medal is the Nobel prize for Mathematics!!! And, as an abstract field which has has been around for centuries and millenniums to be more precise, it takes serious intellectual skills to master some of these Maths areas let alone make breakthroughs in new research. [From "From ancient times through the Middle Ages, bursts of mathematical creativity were often followed by centuries of stagnation. Beginning in Renaissance Italy in the 16th century, new mathematical developments, interacting with new scientific discoveries, were made at an increasing pace that continues through the present day."]

So even if Bhargava is a born in Canada and raised mainly in America person but whose parents hailed from India, I think it is very nice that somebody with some Indian roots made it so big in Mathematics and that too at quite a young age (40 is young for these kind of top-notch research prizes, I gather).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

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