“In continuation of the 2014 note
In 2014 the India Platform team wrote that the then Draft roadmap for cooperation between India and the European Union was interesting because of its specificity and the pointers it gave as to where to look for successful and important science and technology collaborations between the two regions in the short and the middle long term. The current roadmaps show similar specificities and pointers. However, in our 2014 note, we also pointed to an important lacuna in the roadmap: it contained no awareness of the difference in research contexts between India and Europe. More specifically, we indicated the absence of a research culture in India. We also suggested that unless collaborations focus on bringing such a research culture to India, these would not yield the expected results.
The Second progress report on the implementation of the strategy for international cooperation in research and innovation (Draft Outline) suggests that this has indeed been the case. India is remarkably absent in the cited showcases of success in the programmes of the European Commission. How do we understand this absence? Is it an unwillingness to participate, or the lack of the conditions required for participation? We would like to reiterate what we wrote in our 2014 note here: many Indian students and researchers participate in European Commission programmes individually, but India does not have the fertile soil to let research groups develop that can carry longer term research projects forward.
At the moment, Europe selects potential researchers with high marks from the Indian educational (rote learning) system. From our experience we know that very few to none of these students possess the required attitude and skills to do research. In a European research environment, we see that 50% of them catch on, while 50% of them do not and are not able to do research on the level required (PhD or post-doc). The successful 50%, after their stay in Europe, either (1) are keen to move forward to the US, or (2) return to India. There, however, it is extremely difficult for them to find a research environment to develop their research potential. Europe until now, has not been focusing on this huge loss of investment.
How can Europe aspire to change this situation such that (a) we realise our aims of establishing a smooth knowledge flow, (b) we create real knowledge partners who learn from Europe’s experience but do not need to live in Europe in order to thrive and thus, (c) we witness the maximum appreciation of our investments?
What we wrote in 2014 remains as relevant today as it was then. Instead of repeating ourselves we would like to suggest some possible ways of tackling this situation in what follows.”