Editorial with Sujit Nair: Why NASA gets more IITians than ISRO ?

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In this editorial segment, Mr. Sujit Nair addresses the issue of Indian students from prestigious institutions like IIT and NIT, who are funded by taxpayers but often choose to leave the country instead of serving India, which has financed their education. A total of Rs 463 crore was allocated to support the 19 IIMs in the same year. Additionally, the HRD Ministry expended Rs 2577.65 crore on 31 NITs and the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur. This data was disclosed by the former Minister of State for HRD, Mahendra Nath Pandey, in a written response to a question in Rajya Sabha. Rs 120 crore was directed towards the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, while Rs 550 crore was allocated to the six Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research. Moreover, the Central government invested Rs 609 crore in 159 state universities, Rs 107.33 crore in IGNOU, and Rs 86 crore in three Schools of Planning and Architecture. Earlier this year, the Supreme Court, during a hearing concerning mandatory rural service for PG admissions, highlighted that the government invests a substantial amount in training each medical graduate and post-graduate in government medical colleges. AIIMS calculated the cost of producing one MBBS graduate at Rs 1.7 crore, with only a fraction of this cost being borne by the students. While Isro has made significant advancements in space exploration, it faces challenges in attracting graduates from prestigious institutions like IIT. Information obtained through an RTI application reveals that merely 2% of Indian Space Research Institute (Isro) employees are graduates of IITs or NITs. Despite satellite launches and interplanetary exploration evolving into both commercial and scientific ventures, Isro is struggling to recruit talent from premier institutes. V Adimurthy, senior advisor of interplanetary mission at Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre, Thiruvananthapuram, notes that this trend is not exclusive to Isro, as other sectors like roadways and railways also encounter difficulties in attracting such graduates. Furthermore, Isro’s centralized recruitment system does not distinguish between an IIT graduate and one from another engineering college. Isro seeks individuals with strong fundamental skills, regardless of their educational institution. Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan finds hope in Isro’s Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IISST), Thiruvananthapuram. Since its establishment in 2007, the institute has consistently attracted top-ranking applicants. Radhakrishnan believes that these outstanding students will go on to become accomplished scientists at Isro.

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