Women empowerment: India needs more women in science, says NR Narayana Murthy

Only one woman from India featured in the list of the world’s top 4,000 highly-cited researchers topped by the US

In order to improve the quality of research in the country, India needs to create an environment conducive for qualified, bright women researchers to continue their pursuit in the field of science, said NR Narayana Murthy, co-founder of IT conglomerate Infosys. A report released by the firm Clarivate Analytics showed that only 10 Indians figure among the world’s top 4,000 highly-cited researchers (HCR), with only one woman from India featuring in the list topped by the US. “Whenever I have gone for a convocation address in any university or IITs in the country, I find that the percentage of gold medals won by women is generally much higher than those won by men,” said Murthy. He added that he has “no doubt” on the fact that more women researchers will help improve the quality of research in India.

“Therefore, we have to create an environment where it is easy for our women researchers to continue their pursuit even after they get married, and even after they have children,” the renowned IT industrialist said. However, Murthy acknowledged that it was a social issue and not so much the problem of the research institutes.

“In our society, we have to create mechanisms whereby qualified, bright women researchers have no hindrance at all to continue their research focus,” he said ahead of the Infosys Prize ceremony here on Saturday. The Infosys Prize is an annual award given to scientists, researchers, engineers and social scientists by the Infosys Science Foundation (ISF). It ranks among the highest monetary awards in India to recognise research.

This year, six eminent professors have been awarded the prize across different categories of science and research. The annual award includes a pure gold medal, a citation, and a prize purse worth $100,000 (or its equivalent in Indian rupees). Murthy believes that India has realised the importance of creating an environment where the researchers can indeed contribute to the global betterment and produce world-class work. “We are still obviously in the early stages, and I’m positive that as we move forward the number of Indians in the top 4000 scientists will indeed increase rapidly. And I have no doubt that the Infosys Science Prize will provide an impetus to this effort,” he said.

He added that many Infosys Prize winners had gone on to win international awards in research considered at par with the Nobel Prize. Commenting on the challenges faced by the research and science sector in the country, Murthy noted that research institutes should adopt a more multidisciplinary approach and provide for more interactions of researchers with those outside the country. “Funding may not really be the hurdle in improving the quality of research,” he said.

“At this point in time, the UPA government and the  current NDA government, have both taken a lot of interest in improving the quality of higher education. UPA tripled the allocation of funds for higher education, the current government has continued it, so I don’t know if funding is the issue,” Murthy said.

He said that youngsters needed to spend more time with international researchers and that they should participate in conferences outside India. “I think our aim for world-class work, for the best research work has to be improved first by being more open-minded to compare our work to what is happening outside India, second by providing greater chances for our youngsters to interact with world-class researchers and third by adopting a multidiscip linary research approach,” he said.

Source: Financial Express

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