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PM concern over science grads not finding gainful jobs

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What is equally worrisome is the finding that many people employed in science-centred jobs are insufficiently qualified.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, flanked by the Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Kapil Sibal (right), and the Director-General, CSIR, Dr R.A. Mashelkar, at the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award function in the Capital on Wednesday. — Kamal Narang

New Delhi , Sept. 28

THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, today expressed concern on findings of a report that shows that 20 per cent of science graduates and 14 per cent of PhDs in science do not find gainful employment.

He was referring to findings of the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) through a study done by the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).

What is equally worrisome is the finding that many people employed in science-centred jobs are insufficiently qualified, he added.

Dr Singh was speaking at a function where Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awards were given to 21 eminent Indian scientists for their research contributions.

The INSA report shows that the proportion of enrolled students in science has gone up from 28 per cent in 1995-96 to 34.6 per cent in 2003-04.

Shortage of quality teachers: However, it also shows that while close to two-thirds of the students in class VI-VIII are satisfied with the quality of science teaching, this falls to 40 per cent in class XI and XII.

"This shows a shortage of good, highly motivated science teachers at higher levels," said Dr Singh, adding that he would like the HRD Ministry and the State Governments to take necessary remedial action.

The report also points to a grave regional imbalance in terms of educational institutions in different States.

"I trust our Government at the Centre, as well as State Governments, will take note of these findings and evolve policies to remedy these regional imbalances."

Science institutes: Stressing the need to have more world-class institutes on the lines of the Bangalore-based IISc, he said that the Government is creating two institutes dealing exclusively with science education and research; these are to be located in Pune and Kolkata.

Moreover, the Government has approved the setting up of a new National Science & Engineering Research Foundation.

"It will receive generous funding and operate in an autonomous manner."

Referring to a task force set up by the HRD Ministry with a target of doubling the number of PhDs coming out of India within the next 5-6 years, Dr Singh said that the necessary Budgetary support has been provided.

Affordable water: He complimented the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) for its innovation on the high-technology membrane filter that does not require electricity and can remove bacteria and viruses from water by installation in village hand pumps.

He said, "At just four paise per litre, this technology makes safe drinking water affordable to all".

The challenge was to generate high technology, creating wealth and prestige for India, he added, while also ensuring that this technology improves the lives of the poor.

Awards: He presented the CSIR Diamond Jubilee Technology Award 2004 to Midas Communications Technologies for work in design, development, and commercialisation of wireless in local loop communication system in collaboration with Telecommunication and Computer Network, IIT Madras.

In order to create exciting career opportunities for scientists to retain Indian talent at home, he said, the Government recently announced Ramanujam Fellowship, JC Bose Fellowship, and Fellowships for Scientists and Technologists of Indian Origin (STIO).

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