Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Guha on Import Dependence

"Almost all elected members of GRC are SSB prize winners...an entry into this club means that you have arrived"

In the world of Indian sci-tech GRC and SSB are acronyms even a novice would know. The former stands for Guha Research Conference set up in the name of B. C. Guha, and the latter, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize.

This makes it all the more strange that a Google search on GRC would only get you a long list of Indian scientists who are proud to call themselves "elected members" without any publicly accessible information on how this club functions. There was no Wikipedia page on Guha Research Conference, until today.

According to Parthasarathi Banerjee, affiliation to GRC, "acts as the token, assuring easier access to prizes of several sorts."  The SSB Prize is one of them.

As far as institutions go, GRC presents an interesting case to all those who are curious to know why India's output is so sad when it comes to applied S&T. The organization is named after Prof. Bires Chandra Guha (1904-1962) who is referred to as the 'father of modern Indian biochemistry'.

Guha was, no doubt, a person of many interesting dimensions. He was a freedom fighter, an artist and a scientist who worked closely with many Nobel laureates in UK and USA. After independence, he returned to India and helps establish many a national institution like CFTRI, Mysore.

Way back in 1956, he made a sharp observation - "It is undesirable that practically all fine instruments of measurements should have to be imported. Biochemical researches in these days are greatly dependent on such instruments and biochemists in this country should make a special plea for the manufacture of these instruments".

Half-a-century later our labs continue to be helplessly dependent on foreign manufacturers for nearly all their equipment and reagents.

It would be interesting to know that the eminent members of GRC have been doing to solve this long-standing problem..


* Wiki on GRC  (created 7 April 2014) -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guha_Research_Conference

* Biresh Chandra Guha: Father of Modern Biochemistry in India -- http://www.iisc.ernet.in/currsci/sep252004/823.pdf


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