Until death do us part

Tapan Misra

Good that some section of bureaucracy decided to demonstrate that some people with spines, are still there. Specially true for government officers, many of whom are notorious to prostrate at the drop of a hat, when asked to bend and they can bend in every direction – as if their spine is made of rubber.

Government scientists, specially those who are mathematically best described as “curl operators”, are notorious to take their affinity for cushy Government positions as seriously as enshrined in marriage vows. From their decades long experiences in Government set up, they managed to climb high in scientific ladder, not by any earth shaking contribution but by their intimate knowledge of all the nuances of climbing a greasy ladder. They learnt the rope trick by observing keenly how many hapless, honest and contributing scientists, slipped out of the ladder mid way through for no fault of their own.

Much before their retirement, they start lobbying for their post retirement cushions. They know whom to manage and when. Immediately after retirement, they nicely perch themselves as Chairs or members of many God-Knows-What councils, boards. You will see such characters advising you on education system though never in their lives they have ever taught even in primary school. The one who never even saw any patent paper, let alone obtaining it, starts advising young men and women about the tricks of innovation.

Using their positions, they navigate through secret labyrinth to occupy most important and powerful departmental promotion committees, scientific award committees. Like as Mao Zedong professed that power flows from the barrel of the gun, these scientists exercise brutal power with their ability to make and break careers. Then join their hands with members of their likes, to promote and reward worthless and obsequious scientists to higher positions of scientific set up. They form a cosy, self serving relationship with senior scientists in positions of power, to perpetuate their stranglehold on the system.

Jim Corbett studied tigers very closely. He observed that toothless tigers quickly turn into man eaters as they find two legged, intelligent animals as easy prey. Similarly these toothless scientists survive by devouring many bright careers, coming in their path. Some of these pious souls mange to get decorated with acclaimed national and international civil and decorative awards for their sole contribution of maiming Indian science. Same traditions are being perpetuated through generations of Indian scientists.


Tapan Misra is a globally acclaimed distinguished scientist. He has headed the Space Application Centre and also served as Advisor in Department of Space. His contribution to India’s Space Programme is immense.

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