Over at Tantu-jaal my friend Sunil Mukhi asks the question as to what is to be done if a person in highly privileged Institutes does not get much done. Strongly recommend this post.
Let me ask a different question: what does one do when a person at a Research Institute does a lot of work, or a person at a University does a lot of work. How does such a person gain recognition for his or her work? Now don't tell me, as many of my friends do, that satisfaction that you derive is what you are here for. Partly true. If this was the end of the story, why should there be so many little pieces of recognition? Is there any way in which objectively a person's work is recognized in India? What if he or she is not working some very hot area, at least not so hot at the time the work is being done? Don't tell me that history will judge, and all that sort of stuff. What happens to a person who is working in a subfield on which there is probably not much expertise in the country? How does one judge?
In a scenario where virtually all recognition is through a process of nomination by those who are already in this or that club, and not a process of open application, how does one recognize work? X or Y may be a good scientist and may be thoroughly obnoxious and offensive, and such a person in our set up will not receive recognition for the work he or she has done. Z may have crossed the path of this or that bigshot and is finished off for life. Sometime ago, I had the privilege of nominating a fellow physicist for an international award. Why me? The only eligibility criterion for the nominator was that he or she should be an active scientist. Even though I have never had any recognition myself, it did not disqualify me from making that nomination. For that matter, the Dirac Medal of the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste also has an open nomination procedure.
What I would rather suggest is that there should be a recognized or prestigious forum, where every scientist is welcome to say exactly what he or she has done, and draw the attention of the community. Let the work speak for itself, in terms of published work, the actual publication, what it has sought to show, etc.. Such a forum would immediately destroy the old boys network and scratching backs and bending over backwards for recognition and the quid pro quo..
I am not turning off comments and invite all three of you who read this blog to post your opinions.