Home > News > 6 Indian scientists among top 10 in their fields, 1500 in world’s top 2% | India News

6 Indian scientists among top 10 in their fields, 1500 in world’s top 2% | India News


Six scientists from India rank among the top 10 contributors to their fields globally, and 11 are among the 10 most cited in their fields over the past year.
The list, compiled by researchers from Stanford University, Elsevier Research Intelligence and SciTech Strategies last month, is an updated database of the top scientists in the world. Of the 1.6 lakh most cited scientists in the world of all time, 1,490 are from India. Among those most cited over the past year, 2,313 are from India. Given the vast differences between research disciplines, the paper says, “We discourage raw comparisons of scientists across very different fields.”
Within their own subfields, 26 Indian scientists figure among the top 50 most cited scientists in the career-long list and 66 among the top 100. The metrics over the past year are even better — 44 among the top 50 in their own subfields and 104 in the top 100. The Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has an edge over all other institutes in India, with 94 scientists on the all-time list and 97 on the past year’s. Next come the IITs — Delhi (64 all-time, 81 last year), Kharagpur (43 and 68) and Bombay (40 and 50).
Institutional support clearly makes a difference. So, do the top-ranked scientists think there is enough? “I gave up thinking about this long ago,” the top Indian scientist of all time and the second most cited globally in inorganic & nuclear chemistry, Gautam R Desiraju from IISc in Bengaluru, told TOI. When asked if there is funding, administrative support and the right platforms for research, he only said, “No.”
Imran Ali from Jamia Millia Islamia, the top Indian scientist in 2019 and the second most cited in his sub-field, analytical chemistry, last year, said the same, “Lack of encouragement for research among our youths and funding are major challenges.”
The problem might be systemic. “India has the ecosystem … but neither is it available to all who deserve these nor is it provided in a fair manner. Compared to nearly all developed countries and even most developing countries, our governmental science and technology budget is too less. When it is not made available in a fair manner, many who truly deserve it and have original research aptitude do not get it,” said Ashok Pandey, a biotechnologist from the Lucknow-based Indian Institute of Toxicology Research, the eighth top in his subfield of all time and fourth last year.
According to Unesco, India spends just about 0.7% of its GDP on research. The US spends 2.7%, Germany 2.9% and South Korea, the highest, 4.3%.
A lot also depends on the field. The only two theoretical physicists from India on the list, Ashoke Sen and T Padmanabhan, for instance, said they have not faced infrastructural challenges because of the nature of their work. “A computer and internet connection is usually all that is needed,” said Sen, who works on string theory at the Harish Chandra Research Institute in Allahabad, and is ranked 13th in nuclear and particle physics in the world and 82nd in the 2019 list.
“I have always worked in theory and in research institutes, and found India provided more than adequate support. Researchers in other areas and in the university sector might have a different view,” said T Padmanabhan from the Pune-based Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics India, ranked 24th in nuclear and particle physics in the world, and 22nd over the past year.
But some scientists think things might be looking up. “I am very positive about the ecosystem being provided by our government over the past 10 years … If you have a good research proposal with reasonable expected outcomes then there is a good chance of getting funding,” said Ravipudi Venkata Rao from the SV National Institute of Technology in Surat, ranked 74th globally in industrial engineering and automation and fifth last year. “Administrative support at present can also be considered good, particularly at institutions like IITs, IISc, NITs, and other centrally-funded universities and certain state universities. However, it needs to be enhanced further.”

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