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CSIR-Tech Report: A familiar story?

December 10, 2009 1 comment

The CSIR-Tech: Path Forward report prepared by Shiva Ayyadurai and Deepak Sardan has been made public here, with the addenda here. I had a look at the report, and found it to be a very unprofessionally prepared report, even for a draft. Shiva Ayyadurai seems to have several degrees from MIT, including a PhD, even if he is not a faculty there. From  a childish `dedication’ and a haphazard table of contents, to a badly prepared list of meetings called the `historic timeline’, the quality of  the report is terrible. I would not expect a report of this quality to get a passing grade in a course at any  reputable university, let alone MIT or ANU (where Sardana had his PhD).

But irrespective of the quality of the report, and the quality of the writers, there are some points in it which are all too familiar from any number of scientific institutions in the country. I specifically looked at Chapter 7, the one which reportedly caused all the ruckus. It seems to be based on some findings of a different expert, Ian Dean, some sort of a `Leadership consultant’.

Several points here are very familiar to many of us who suffer the authorities in scientific institutions. Directors do not respond to emails or even written communications, and when they do, it is by word of mouth to which they cannot be held accountable. Director’s meetings, especially with scientists, tend to become monologues; disagreements are often shouted down or ridiculed, and minutes of meetings read like lecture notes, without any details of discussion or feedback. And massive disorganization? In the institutes there are committees, often headed by scientists, meant to take care of administrative issues. The scientists are often not terribly interested in the particular issues they have been asked to oversee, and the non-scientists in the committee get away with not doing any work by making the scientist the fall guy. Only purchase and finance committees get their work done in a reasonable time, other committees take forever to achieve anything.

The other problems noted in this chapter also seem quite familiar, maybe I could discuss them at another time. What I do find interesting is that in various blogs like this one and newspapers, the discussion is about the personality of Shiva Ayyadurai, and not the very real problems listed in his report (which may have been actually pointed out by Ian Dean in any case).

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