Indian origin scientist ousted from CSIR after report row

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London, November 10 (ANI): A US scientist of Indian origin has been dismissed just five months after he was offered the position of 'outstanding scientist' and tasked with helping to commercialize technologies developed at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) institutes.

According to a report in Nature News, Shiva Ayyadurai, an entrepreneur inventor and Fulbright Scholar with four degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, was the first scientist to be appointed under the CSIR scheme to recruit about 30 scientists and technologists of Indian origin (STIOs) into researcher leadership roles.

"The offer was withdrawn as he did not accept the terms and conditions and demanded unreasonable compensation," Samir Brahmachari, director general of the CSIR, told Nature.

But, in a October 30 letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is also president of the CSIR, Ayyadurai claims that he was sacked for sending senior CSIR scientists a report that was critical of the agency's leadership and organization.

The report, published on October 19, was authored by Ayyadurai and colleague Deepak Sardana, who joined the CSIR as a consultant in January.

Ayyadurai said that the report - which was not commissioned by the CSIR - was intended to elicit feedback about the institutional barriers to technology commercialization.

"Our interaction with CSIR scientists revealed that they work in a medieval, feudal environment," said Ayyadurai. "Our report said the system required a major overhaul because innovation cannot take place in this environment," he added.

Ayyadurai said that he came to the CSIR with a "mission" to apply his scientific and entrepreneurial experience to help his homeland, and that Brahmachari had promised him the authority, budget and resources to execute the mission.

But, Ayyadurai's relationship with Brahmachari soured after the report went public.

Ayyadurai claims that on October 23, he was barred by the CSIR from speaking to council scientists or directors, and was denied Internet and e-mail access.

His appointment offer was withdrawn on October 26, and on November 7, he was given three days to vacate his residential accommodation provided by the CSIR.

Brahmachari confirms this chain of events.

"I have seen many cases of vindictiveness in the CSIR, but this is the worst," said Pushpa Bhargava, founder director of the CSIR's Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB).

Bhargava, who has also written to Singh supporting Ayyadurai, said, "Ayyadurai's report tells the truth about how the CSIR is being run today. The fact that CSIR administration is impervious to healthy and fair criticism is bound to send the wrong message not only to expatriates but also (to scientists) within the country." (ANI)

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