It proposes to encapsulate a scientist’s performance into a single equation
A controversial proposal to grade the performance of CSIR scientists is expected to be soon cleared by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, who is also the president of The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which is India’s largest chain of publicly-funded research laboratories.
“It just needs to be signed by the PM and cleared by the governing body and will soon be implemented,” Girish Sahni, Director-General, CSIR, told The Hindu . The new appraisal system will reduce the importance to research publications and gives greater weight to developing products as also scientists who have successfully collaborated with industry and been part of teams to develop marketable products.
The new system proposes to encapsulate a scientist’s performance into a single equation and is a departure from the existing format of having scientists internally evaluated by their peers.
The 75-year-old CSIR has a large network of 38 laboratories spread across the country that are involved in a wide range of research from battery technology and genomics to glass-making.
Over the years, the Council has emerged as India’s biggest publisher of research papers as well as the largest patentee, though only a fraction of these have been become commercial products.
The Hindu spoke to several scientists at various levels across labs on the new grading process. Several, on condition of anonymity, expressed apprehensions, with one saying that reducing scientists’ performance to an equation was “irrational.”
That was because different CSIR labs had different mandates: some were focussed at looking for drugs, some for testing if potential drugs were safe or could be made more efficient and still others were geared towards making low-cost products that weren’t necessarily marketable but had great societal impact. “All of these were equally important and reducing this complexity to a single equation or a single score is unfair,” a senior scientist told The Hindu . A key point under discussion is how much of a relative weightage ought to be given to products and technology development. “From lab to lab, there are concerns that it could be as high as 70 per cent,” a director of the lab told The Hindu . “That has got some scientists concerned.”