Leading scientists and researchers expressed the potential for high-quality computer science research in India, at the inaugural session of Microsoft Research (MSR) India’s annual symposium ‘TechVista Pune 2011’, held in the city on Friday.
The daylong symposium was inaugurated by chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. Other dignitaries who attended the session include Raghunath Mashelkar (scientist & former director general, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research), P Anandan (MD, MSR India), Rick Rashid (head of MSR, Worldwide), Andrew Blake (MD, MSR, Cambridge) and Mathai Joseph (advisor, Tata Consultancy Services).
Acknowledging Microsoft’s role in changing the way professionals work in India, Chavan said that limited infrastructure and resources to conduct research are our biggest hurdles.
“The challenge before us is to catch the brightest of the young minds. The government has plans to start special sponsorship programmes at the national level to mentor these budding researchers in our national research labs,” he said.
He added that more researchers will help build India’s economy faster. This is essential to conquer the problems that the country is facing, like limited natural resources and raw material, energy crunch, food security problem and decreasing cultivable land.
Meanwhile, P Anandan, in his welcome address, stressed that attending conferences was more important than leafing through journals.
“To help support computer science research in India, given the untapped potential that exists here, MSR India was established on January 12, 2005. Our focus is on basic and applied research in computer science to communicate the beauty of research. The emphasis is on MSR’s commitment to collaborative research and development, with the government, academic communities and industry,” said Anandan.
“We don’t even produce 1,000 doctoral students per year in computer science; only over 85 complete their PhD every year. What seems to be missing? Even when it is said that India’s future is in Information Technology (IT), apart from having the largest pool of technical manpower in the world and the best engineering institutes.” said Mashelkar.
He said there is a need to embark upon systematic efforts to break new grounds. “Resource or no resource, we have to be resourceful in changing our ideas to reality,” added Mashelkar, while underlining the importance of releasing and following up on the power of ideas.
On the development of MSR, Rashid said that students require the willingness to take risks. “Subject your work to criticism of peers and measure it against the work of others,” he said. He added that investment in research allows a country to bring about rapid change, in terms of development.
The MSR India PhD - fellowship awardees for 2010 and India Rising Star awardees for 2011 were felicitated by Chavan on the occasion.
The symposium also included technical lectures, research project demonstrations and a poster display by some PhD students.