'Not enough scientists in India to supplement growing economy'

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Kolkata, Nov 2: Despite its rich tradition of producing academics, India at the moment lacks the necessary pool of scientists needed for its future, Nobel laureate George Smoot said.

The 2006 winner of the Nobel in Physics has suggested the country spruce up its research institutes to create a research-friendly environment and tackle its brain-drain.

"There is not enough for what India needs for the coming future and I also think India is losing a lot of talents as people are going to other countries for good job opportunities and research," Smoot told IANS by phone from New Delhi.

"By making a better environment here some of those people will return to India and help build India," added Smoot.

American astrophysicist and cosmologist Smoot is in the country to attend the Sweden India Nobel Memorial Week organised by the Embassy of Sweden.

Smoot, whose fundamental research deals with origins of the universe, shared the prestigious honour with colleague John C. Mather for their work on the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite.

COBE revolutionised understanding of the early cosmos by precisely measuring and mapping the oldest light in the universe - the cosmic microwave background. The results confirmed the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe.

Currently a professor of physics at the University of California - Berkeley, he emphasised two key areas to address the problem of brain-drain.

"First is education... to bring forward a new generation of people who will be scientists... there is not enough what an advanced form of economy is going to need."

"And the second would be to build up universities in collaboration with the institutes and to be able create environments for people to do research here. Smart talents are going to other countries where there are institutes with good environments," said Smoot.

However, the laureate accepted it will "take a while" to upgrade current research laboratories to the state-of-the-art facilities.

With regard to the next course of action, Smoot batted for strengthening and furthering studies in "all major fields of fundamental science".

"Work is on in biology, biophysics and condensed matter physics. But, overall, you have to have a broad frontier of fundamental science going on because you never know from where the next exciting news is going to come," he concluded.

The official Nobel programme, arranged by Nobel Media and the Nobel Museum, includes university lectures, a seminar and other events in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune.

IANS

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