Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Boosting Innovation: Murthy’s Idea Of Funding Indian PhDs In US Is A Non-Starter

Murthy’s idea will cost Indian Government in the tune of $25 bn over five years, an investment that can be better used to set up several top-notch universities and research institutions where Indians currently working abroad can be lured back.

NR Narayana Murthy suggested that India should spend an annual $5 billion to create 10,000 PhDs in American universities with the explicit proviso that none of them will be employed in the US. They have to return home to work on innovative projects and products right here.

While prima facie this seems like a bold idea to unleash thousands of innovators in India, giving a quantum jump the creation of intellectual property, a closer examination shows that this is actually a defeatist solution. Among other things, it concludes that India cannot produce world class PhDs, that the ones produced in the US will become innovative in India merely because they did their stuff under western masters, and that all this expense is worth it for ensuring high quality PhDs.

This is a typical Indian non-solution that essentially says India can’t be reformed, and that we need ideas that bypass our institutional limitations rather than improve them. This is the kind of thinking that got us a Right to Education Act, which essentially forces the 10 percent of reasonably competent privately-run schools to provide education to the underprivileged, instead of focusing on the real issue: how to make state schools deliver by making them accountable.

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