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January 10, 2011
University HQ, Coimbatore

Can India Produce a Home Grown Nobel Prize Winner in Science and Technology?

Why not? This was emphasis of a lively debate during the January 6 episode of CNN-IBN’s Face the Nation program hosted by veteran journalist Sagarika Ghose.

Dr. Shantikumar Nair,Mr. Narayana Murthy, Dr. Kasthuri Rangan

Amrita is proud that our Dean of Research, Dr. Shantikumar Nair, joined luminaries such as Mr. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys Technologies and Dr. Kasthuri Rangan, former chairman of ISRO, at the program.

With the trio, was Prof. Sandeep Trivedi, the winner of this year’s Infosys Prize for Physical Sciences. Prof. Sandeep works at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

The following facts were highlighted during the show.

India produces about 400,000 engineering graduates and about 300,000 computer science graduates every year.

Dr. Shantikumar Nair talk

India produces just about 20,000 masters’ degree holders and fewer than 1000 Ph.D.s in engineering every year.

India’s spending on R&D is about $24 billion compared with China’s investment of $104 billion and the United States’s $368 billion.

Excerpted below are some remarks made on the show. An archived version of the show is available.


Sagarika Ghose: According to an analyst, the state of science in India is akin to islands of excellence floating in a sea of mediocrity. While we have institutes like ISRO, TIFR, CSIR, the average Indian child simply does not have the access to science teaching, science labs, science equipment, to make him enthusiastic for science.

Mr. Narayana Murthy

Mr. Narayana Murthy: I do believe that it is possible for India to produce a Nobel Prize winner in the not-so-distant future … as long as we provide full autonomy to our institutions, as long as we revere meritocracy, as long as we increase interactions with world-class institutions outside India … as long as we provide financial resources that these people need.

Dr. Shanti Nair: We know that a large number of the very top scientists in the U.S. happen to be Indians who have gone from here and have done very well there. How do we create the environment here so that we can have such high excellence here?

Mr. Narayana Murthy

We definitely need to have our education system pay attention not just to the high-end research institutes where some very excellent work is being done but also the base line where we can enhance our education system so that we have a foundation that nurtures the growth of young people and excites them about science.

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