Dozens of Indian researchers working in biological sciences abroad are heading home to India. Is biotech India’s next IT? V Shoba in The Indian Express:
Subba Rao Gangi Setty spends much of his time in a small cabin with an old fan whirring above. After arriving in Bangalore in July last year, the cell biologist has set up a lab at the Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology in the Indian Institute of Science to study a disease called the Hermansky-Pudlak Syndrome (HPS), a type of albinism. One of a handful of senior fellows supported by a joint funding programme of the Wellcome Trust, UK, and the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, Setty, a Green Card holder, returned to a much lower salary and an un-airconditioned office so he could pursue science in India. “I went to government schools and studied on government scholarships. I felt I owed it to my country to come back and do quality science here,” says the 37-year-old from Porumamilla village, Kadappa district, Andhra Pradesh, who spent over a decade in the US—long enough that he now rolls his r’s.
Raring for a change after nine years at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, US, Setty began looking out for opportunities in the biotech industry in 2009. The recession was setting in at the time, but with two Nature papers and several other high-quality publications to his name, he found work at Proteostasis Therapeutics, a small molecule drug company in Boston. For a year, he worked on modulation of cell biological pathways to cure protein folding defects implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. “It was then that I learned about the Wellcome Trust-DBT fellowship. I had been eager to come back to India since 2006, but now, an opportunity presented itself,” he says. More:
The Wellcome Trust/DBT India Alliance
In The Indian Express, Indira Chowdhury walks through the house built by Jehangir and Meherbai Bhabha just before its contents are auctioned and laments the ‘monetisation of a rich material culture that will now enter private collections and drawing rooms as aesthetic objects, emptied of context’.
Colonial India condemned Indians as a people without history, often quoting John Stuart Mill who argued that for “rude nations”, like India, “fable stands in place of fact” and “the times over which memory has any influence are rejected, and the imagination riots in those in which it is unrestricted”. Perhaps an unexamined adoption of the view has now morphed into the frequent lament that we in India lack a historical consciousness. This often reflects in our actions, as historical resources are often destroyed in favour of development. Ironically, though, there seems to be a great interest in investing in art and collecting artefacts from the past. So is this the long-awaited resurfacing of the much-lamented “Indian historical consciousness”? I think not. The monetisation of the material culture from the past almost systematically erases the historical context within which these artefacts existed. more
- Nehru, Bhabha, JRD Tata and K. Chandrasekharan at TIFR, 1962. Photo: Penguin
In The Indian Express, C. Raja Mohan reviews a book on Homi J. Bhabha (A Masterful Spirit: Homi J. Bhabha; Penguin) by Indira Chowdhury & Ananya Dasgupta:
Homi Jehangir Bhabha was unquestionably one of the most refined modernists of 20th century India. As the architect of independent India’s science and technology institutions, Bhabha’s legacy will endure .
He is often cited and always praised. And his name is invoked with reverence, not necessarily for the right reasons. Recall how Bhabha’s three-stage programme for India’s nuclear energy development was made the ultimate criterion for judging some of the terms of the controversial civilian nuclear deal with the United States. As an authentic internationalist and cosmopolitan, Bhabha might have been shocked by the provincialism and knee-jerk anti-Americanism of his successors at the Department of Atomic Energy.
As a man committed to scientific temper, he might have been saddened by the uncritical chanting of his three-stage formula, without any reference to the changed conditions and improved knowledge of reactor physics. More: