Elephants have the right of way
by Molly Webb
It was this question which was taken up again later in the week by Ashok Parthasarathi, a veteran of the S&T policy 'game'. His answer wasn't about ensuring a global reputation for Indian science (at least not as an end in itself). His vision is for the future for every Indian. He thinks that basic research can thrive alongside a healthy dose of purpose-oriented research, and basic needs should be a top priority.
Both stories emphasize that despite India's 7-8% growth in GDP, many people still live in poverty, environmental problems persist, and excellence continues to be focused in a few key institutions. They agree that India's human resources are the key to its success. And with the second largest population in the world, if India has problems (and solutions), these are also global problems (and solutions). The road to India's future is one in which all countries will be participating, on their own terms or not.
The elephant metaphor maybe has been overdone recently, but as Kirsten and I gawked at an elephant walking non-chalantly along the highway outside of Delhi, it wasn't hard to see who was king of the road.