It’s not just engineering that the economy needs


It is time to make pure sciences attractive again. India’s dreams of building a knowledge economy and staying competitive among the major nations of the world will depend on overhauling its education system to give the basic sciences and research into their advance the prime status they deserve. Apart from overhauling educational administration and institutions, this would call for overhauling the remuneration structure for those who pursue pure science and not just its applied versions. New insights in physics, chemistry, biology, etc, will drive the commercial opportunities of the future. There is a need to encourage pure science, so that it attracts the best minds, who would drive research and produce new knowledge from which commercial applications would emerge. Last week, The Economist surveyed the assorted advanced uses to which the insights of quantum mechanics are being put, ranging from computing to communications and cryptography to mineral exploration and creation of new materials. Cell biology offers new ways to store information.
Nano technologies derive from new advances in chemistry and the science of materials. Countries that do not generate indigenous capacity in these emerging fields of world-changing technology will be condemned to dependence on countries and companies that do possess such capacity. India’s approach to science education is complicated. At school, those who excel are pushed into engineering or medicine. This must change.