RESEARCH, EDUCATION, AND INTERNATIONAL RANKING

Everybody, including the Govt. of India says that it is important for  researchers from Indian Universities & Institutions to carry out such research which is cited by others internationally, so that their International Ranking goes up.   They certainly do have a point.

But then, it should be remembered that such Citations & rankings also depend on a number of factors, including the  topic and the conclusion.

 

  1. Rakhigadhi : An example of research that has undone a widely-accepted-Theory :

# Let us take the example of the research in which BARC & IIT-KGP were involved, by which, in Rakhigadhi, the beginning of civilization —- and also of the Sindhu-Saraswati Civilization —– there, has been shifted back to 7000 BCE.

 

  • The conventional theory of the so-called ‘Aryan Invasion’ is well-known , & need not be repeated. The basis started in late-18th Century, (and the theory was generated & became popular in in 19th century). Max Muller gave the period of RigVeda as the  2nd Millenium BCE.
  • Later on, in early 20th century, Harappa , & consequently, the Indus valley civilization, was found, ( & shortly later, Mohen Jo daro). That generated the ‘Aryan Invasion theory’. ( AIT)
  • Later on, particularly after partition, lot of archeological research was carried out, and a number of new sites of the Indus Civilization were located. The research then concluded that these towns were abandoned due to natural causes ( eg- drying up of river Saraswati , & floods in Indus). After that, the ‘Aryan Invasion Theory’  was modified by the western experts, to ‘Aryan Immigration Theory’.  A number of western scholars still go by it.
  • Recently some Indians & PIO’s from USA, have propagated ‘Out Of India’ , i. e. Indian Origin Theory ( of Aryans) . But it  is apparently not accepted by most western scholars. In fact, there has been a running web-war between an Indian scholar & an eminent US professor from one of the topmost universities in USA  . (The  names are not necessary here).
  • Now, the point is that, the guys from the Indian Institutions must have published articles about their research on Rakhigadhi ;  but firstly, how many International publications might have published them ( & how many refused to publish),  is one matter ; and even if published, how many western scholars would have ‘Cited’ these articles / Research-reports, is another

 

  1. How is a Theory/Research/Report ‘different-from-conventional-knowledge’ treated

     by experts  :

# In this context, let us see a quote from an article by Will Hart (which, incidentally is on another subject altogether,  but which makes the right point). It is interesting to note that he is talking of western experts vs. western experts.

QUOTE =

What trained, credentialed scientist earning a living through a university or government position wants to jeopardize  a career and earn the disdain of colleagues in the process ? Apparently none. Rocking the boat is never popular.

= UNQUOTE.

# In another such article, Douglas Kenyon tells us about a respected  American (US) Geologist, who , after a find on US Westen sea-coast , made exhaustive tests, and came out with a startling conclusion far different than the conventional belief.   It may be noted that, it was a report after exhaustive tests, and not any  conjecture.

Here the author quotes another one to inform us what happened to the respected geologist.

QUOTE =

What she found was that she wasn’t able to get her report published. She lost the teaching position at the university. She was labelled a publicity-seeker and a maverick, in her profession. And she really hasn’t been able to work as a professional geologist since then.

= UNQUOTE

# Kanyon’s article also mentions about another book ( written by westerners,  & on a different subject – anthopology) , which propagates point(s) different from ‘Conventional knowledge’.  Kenyon has mentioned what a scientist has commented –

QUOTE =

Your book is pure humbug and does not deserve to be taken seriously.

= UNQUOTE

 

  1. In the field of Medicine :

# There are several such cases from the field of  medicine .

  • Take cancer, for example. Number of reputed & experienced doctors have worked on different methods/medicines, and have used them with success. But if the method/medicine is different from those that are ‘Accepted’ ( & passed the FDA Tests), then such doctors have been called ‘Quacks, have been ridiculed & hounded. Several were forced to open their clinics in Mexico. A few such names are : Dr. Emanuel Revici, Dr Harold Manner, Dr Hulda Regher Clark, Dr Glenn Warner.
  • That is not to say that, FDA’s method of certification is wrong. In fact, ‘Double Blind’ Testing is good method. But their method is long & time-consuming, and moreover they may not be ready to test & certify new/different methods towards curing cancer. Meanwhile, several afflicted persons are losing their lives.
  • Several counties do not go by the approval of FDA ( i.e. USA certification) ; they have their own methods to certify drugs/treatment-options, for their own country.
  • A case in point is Anna Gutkina, a Scientist of Russian origin, living in USA. As Immunotherapy was not approved by FDA ( except for Prostrate cancer) , for treatment of her Lung cancer, she had to visit Russia regularly , where she got Immunotherapy treatment that cured her Stage 4 cancer.
  • Another case is that of William Kelly Eidem. On getting afflicted with Cancer, he used ‘Alternative Therapy’, which cured him for at least 16 years.
  • The writer of this monograph personally knows that In India , just 3 years ago, Immunotherapy was not accepted as a treatment-option for cancer. But today, hospitals are advertising about their Immunotherapy treatment.
  • The point is that , if one thinks & acts differently from the beaten-path, one are not accepted by his community , let alone being cited by others.

 

4.  A view about research by Indian Scientists, if different from the ‘accepted-theory’ :

An Indian scientist working in India perhaps may not face ridicule in India itself  even if it upturns an accepted-theory .  Still , doubt remains as to how much his/her work would get reference & citations from  international journals & experts, particularly if it is different from the accepted & expected ‘norms’.  

 

5.  Respecting differing-views :

# At the face of it, the above might appear to be one-sided examples;  but the point is that, is intolerance  good ?  Views ‘different-from-convention’ need not necessarily be agreed to , but they surely need to be referred to and discussed.

 

India has a long tradition of discussing differing points of views. Over the centuries, Indian Tradition has been  that, an author first would discuss with respect others’ views & theories, calling that  ‘Poorva Paksha’ ;  and then he would , in ‘Uttar Paksha’ , present his own theory, by proving wrong / incomplete , the theories propagated by others.

 

Should this not happen internationally too ?  Is it happening that way ?

 

  1.  In the Digital Age :

Some learned persons , particularly those who are working in a Western nation , and are familiar with the latest communication methods, say that the Digital Revolution makes it possible for everybody to find a medium where one’s work can be published. They are right on the dot, as far as the basic publishing part is concerned ; but the first point is that, which publications ( printed and electronic) ? ; Are those  sufficiently reputed ; and more importantly, the second point is that , citing such articles/ papers ( containing different-from-normal views)  is more a matter of attitude rather than that of  media.

 

Earlier we have talked about a ‘web-war’ between an Indian researcher and an eminent western Professor from a top US University.  It is the attitude that has contributed to the ‘dispute’;  and then, whatever media are available ,  like the web, are used to propagate one’s  own point of view and denounce the other’s .   Earlier,  such battles were in the Print Media ; now they are on electronic ones.

 

7. About Prioriries

(A)  There is yet another point, particularly related to Universities & ‘Institutions of Higher Education’.

 

# It is clear that the main focus of Research Institutes ( Like IISc, TIFR) should indeed be Research , as that itself is their primary objective. One of their secondary objectives may be ‘Education’ .

 

# But what about the ‘Institutions of Higher Education & Learning’ ? Is their primary  objective ‘Education’ , or its it ‘Research’ ? . If they are ‘Institutions of Learning’ , should their main objective not be ‘Educating the students well , so that they later will excel in

their professions’ ? Their primary objective just can not be ‘Research’ , though research could  be one of their secondary objectives.

 

So, we really have to think seriously as to , how much should such ‘Institutions of Learning’ focus on research ( at the cost of their primary objective viz. ‘Education’ ) ?

 

# This of course a separate topic for discussion, and so is merely touched upon here.

#Towards this, let us consider  the Analogy of Hindustani Classical Music. Here, the older system of Learning was the ‘Gurukul’ System. Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar started Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, so that Music-Learning would be more accessible to the students.  (  A salute to the vision of this great maestro ! ) .

#Gandharva Mahavidyalaya has a certain method of Teaching of certain Ragas every year in a steps ( which knowledge is then recognized by way of Exams & certificates. ( The subject of exams is out of the purview of this monograph).  However, there still are students who learn from Gurus by way of Gurukul System ; gain knowledge and become maestros.

These are two different processes of Learning Music, which have emphasis on  different priorities. ( It may be noted that, this example has been considered to basically  show differing priorities , and not to discuss as to whether one is better than the other).

#Similarly, ‘Institutes if Higher Learning’ have to decide whether to go for the ‘International Ranking System’ (which entails following certain Criteria & their weightage) ;  OR,  to go for improvement per se, and focus on just the upliftment of students’ performance.  ( Again, it has to be emphasized that no comparison in the two systems is intended here. Only the matter of priorities has been discussed).

(C)  Indian Ranking Criteria ( of the Ministry of HRD ) :

With this background, let us see the criteria laid down in the Indian Ranking System, by the  Central Govt.’s Ministry of HRD. ( Ref. website gadgetsnow.com) .  They are –

# Teaching / Learning and  Resources

# Research & Professional practice

# Graduation Outcomes

# Outreach & Inclusivity

# Perception.

While the weightage of each factor is not known from this information, still it is heartening that ‘Teaching / Learning and  Resources’ is a parameter that has been included. Also, as it is the first item in the List, it could be presumed that it has been given the maximum weightage.

(D) The Prime Minister’s Message to students – 

A recent news item is very illuminating . ( Ref- Times of India, Mumbai Edition, dated 17th Feb. 2018, page 11 ). The Title  reads – ‘PM to students :  Hard Work will pay even if Marks don’t’ .  With admiration, it has to be said that the PM has hit the nail right on the head !  There are a number of persons around , ( and some of them of world-repute) , who did not perform well in exams, but who super-succeeded in life.

So, paraphrasing the PM, it could be said to the ‘Institutes of Higher Education’ that,  ‘hard work will pay even if International ranking doesn’t’.

 

8.  Away from the Rut : Thinking Differently –  Some examples  :

  • Take the example of Schooling. They have a fixed curriculum, a fixed method of Learning, and set objectives of Marks & Ranks.  Parents too accept it, in order that their ward secures good Marks & a high Rank. But, there are some parents who understand the difficulties faced by their children in the School, and  in lieu of schooling they have gone in for ‘Home-Learning’, which has its own advantages, and also takes the child out of the rat-race of schooling. It has been found that, that way the child learns better. ( Ref. – Marathi daily, Loksatta, Indian Express Group, Mumbai Edition dated 11.02.2018, p. 9).
  • Loksatta Mumbai dated 18.02.2018, p. 6. Here, Chandrakant Kulkarni, a Reputed Director of Films & Plays, while talking about his group of younger, collegian days, comments that , when they won the first prize in the Competition, they were asked by a senior as to ‘ did the play contain their oen sensitivities, the world of their own experiences ?’ . Kulkarni further adds that,  ‘ Had we not been so alerted that time, we would have been stuck up in the limited route of Competitions only, and our journey  towards deeper understanding of  Dramatics would never have started’.

While competitions per say may have some use , Kulkarni’s experience clearly shows the limitations of Competitions  ( just like that of exams & ranking  in the Education System ).

  • Times of India, Mumbai Edition dated 18.02.2018 ( p.24) writes about the Tennis legend Roger Federer, who at the age of 36 , has become the oldest person to hold No. 1 position in the Rankings. Though in the past, Federer held No. 1 position ( or within the first 10 ) several times, his rank in 2016 was 16 / 17 (because of a prolonged absence due to an operation ).  When he talked of his ‘Career renaissance’,  among other things what he said is this – ‘ .. I always planned for longevity and never gave up that I could get back to winning ways, without ever dreaming of world No. 1 again ..’ .

The importance of performance itself, without worrying about Ranking, speaks volumes. Is this not an apt example for our ‘Institutions of higher Learning’ ?

 

 9.  In Conclusion :

It is not at all suggested that the research-work in various fields should not be increased in Indian Universities & Institutions . After all, as one learned ‘PIO’ Prof. from USA has said, ‘when we accept International Norms, we have no alternative but to accept their methodologies, and work within those parameters , and we have to still succeed !’

 

But, at the same time,  it should be acknowledged that all the research work carried out by Indian researchers may not get cited internationally !

 

If such a realistic attitude is taken by the decision-makers, then work can confidently go on in newer areas without undue worry of International citations.

 

+ + +

 

Subhash S. Naik          Mumbai.

M- 9869002126.          eMail : vistainfin@yahoo.co.in

Website  :  www.subhashsnaik.com   ;     www.snehalatanaik.com.

 

 

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