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Spending the research grant

I heard some stories, which I wanted to share with the world. While these stories were told by individuals, some were corroborated by other individuals.

One story is about a multi-crore rupee grant, which a professor in a Southern Institute received sometime ago and used to buy a top of the line supercomputer, among the fastest in the world at that time. The machine arrived, and the professor retired soon after, without putting much of a strain on it. No one else at the institute seems to have any use for the machine, so it lies there, barely awake, its cooling system drawing enormous power to keep it at its sepulchral temperature against one of the warmest climates in the country.

Another is about a similar sized research grant, which bought a leading branded supercomputer, for the purpose of doing lattice QCD calculations. That computer was used for producing two or maybe three papers, and now is being upgraded for another several crores. One person told me this was at a neighbouring institute (the last one mentioned here) while another thought it was at an institute right across the country. I know that one institute upgraded its supercomputer, and that neither has produced much that required heavy usage of these computers, so possibly my informants are both correct.

But along with these, I heard another story. Those who were discussing these things preferred to call the previous stories examples of corruption, while I preferred to call them examples of stupidity and bad planning. But then one of my friends turned to me and told me about scientists who had their travel agents give them receipts for full-fare air tickets while they actually paid discounted prices. Not only for domestic airfares, but also for international airfares. And submitted those receipts for reimbursement.

That of course is a clear case of corruption.

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  1. June 10, 2010 at 3:24 pm

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