Young Scientists the key to North East’s Future

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Seven Sisters must groom the new generation of scientists

Bengaluru, Jan 21: Nurturing young scientists from the region is a necessity today. Most of the scientists who work on various topics in this region are often challenged with the shortage of young talent as a support. Although it is not quite clear, there are probably multiple factors leading to the shortage of young scientists from the region. “We prefer quick and easy money and do not have the patience to establish ourselves as good researchers. Lack of role models from the state and lack of knowledge about the opportunities are other reasons,” opined Macdiel, an undergraduate student from Shillong.

Lack of mentorship within the region can be the primary reason for young investigators to leave the seven sisters and opt other states and countries.  Deficient funding within the region, lack of awareness about the opportunities ahead, poor research infrastructural facilities are other hindrances.  “There is a lack of quality research and academic centers, except in a couple of cities in the whole region which is a huge hurdle, and has led to most good research being carried out by non-resident scientists. That brings us back to the question of research and answers being not grounded in reality but in theory. There are also hardly any center of excellence in conservation research in the region,” opined Dr. Rajkamal Goswami from Tezpur.

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There are very few institutions which offer quality education and training. Most of the backward classes are employed in the primary and tertiary sector. Youngsters from these classes cannot afford quality education. Only the elite class enjoys it but also prefer to work outside northeast after being trained, due to better job opportunities and higher prospects. Hence, institutions within northeast are challenged with the absence of quality teachers. Only the elite and middle class enjoy good education but the majority stay uneducated and get self-employed within their financial limitations. This cycle of backwardness continues perpetually in these regions of northeast India, added Himon Baruah, another graduate student from Guwahati.

Attracting and preparing women and the growing population of young people for careers in science, technology, and innovation needs to be a major focus. It is essential to allow them to follow the curiosity and absorb the world around them from an early age. Designing new initiatives are necessary to underscore the power of inspiration, the value of education, and the importance of mentors to cultivate scientific temper among NE states. “International mobility of North East research students must be encouraged with a view to create a team of globally trained manpower. Also provide opportunities for research students to access top class research facilities in academia and laboratories across the world,” said Dr. Priyadrashanan, Senior Fellow at Ashoka Trust for Ecology and Environment.

The new-age scientists have to dwell upon issues pertaining to pollution, water scarcity, food management, protection of natural resources and effective management of energy. There is also a necessity to encourage more physicians and medical-scientists to drive healthcare research in the region too. Also existing scientists in the universities and other institutions require time and funding to conduct quality research and make discoveries in their relevant arena. State government and academic institutions must help young researchers to realize their potential more fully for their own benefit as well as for the betterment of the society at large. In addition, appropriate platform must be provided for students to demonstrate their scientific skills.