PASSAGE 14 (Questions 1-5)
A few weeks ago, a newspaper article quoted a well known scientist saying, 'IT has destroyed Indian science'. One can speculate about the various ways in which the growth of the IT sector and other similar knowledge industries such as biotechnology has led to a decline in basic scientific research in India. The most obvious reason is money; pay scales in IT and BT are much higher than one can aspire to in academia. The argument goes why should a bright, B Tech or M Sc student enroll in a Ph.D programme when she can make a lot more money writing code? Not only does a fresh IT employee make a lot more than a fresh M Tech student, her pay will rise much faster in IT than in academia. A professor's pay at a government-run university, even after the Sixth Pay Commission, tops out at far less than a senior executive's salary in a major industry. Second, the social status of IT and BT jobs equals or even exceeds the social status of corresponding academic positions, since they are seen as knowledge industries, which plays to the best and worst instincts of the societal order. As quintessential white collar professions, neither do they compel a successful entrepreneur to resort to violence and corruption, nor do they demand any physical labour. Unlike real estate or road construction, it is felt that IT workers can become rich while staying honest and sweat-free, Assuming that the labour pool for academia and IT is roughly the same, the difference in our collective preferences biases the labour market towards IT and away from academia.
Further, when the imbalance between IT and academia continues for years and even decades, a destructive loop, from academia's point of view, is created. When our best and brightest take IT jobs over academic ones for a decade or more, faculty positions in our universities and research centres are no longer filled by the best candidates. As faculty quality goes down, so does the capacity to train top-class graduate students who, after all, are 'teachers in training. In response to decreasing faculty quality, even those students who would otherwise choose an academic profession, decide to join industry or go abroad for their studies. These foreign trained graduates prefer to come back to corporate India, if at all they do come back and the downward cycle replicates itself in each generation. In other words, academia is trapped within a perfect storm created by a combination of social and economic factors. In this socio-economic calculus, the members of our societal classes should prefer an IT job to an academic one. Or, to put it another way, the knowledge economy, i.e. the creation of knowledge for profit, trumps the knowledge society, i.e. the creation of knowledge for its own sake or for the sake of the greater good. As is said, "Knowledge is power, but money is even more power". Perhaps the scientist was alluding to this victory of Capitalism over the pursuit of pure knowledge when he accused IT of having a negative influence on Indian science. Surely, knowledge has become a commodity like any other and as a result, knowledge workers are like any other labourers, who will sell their wares to the highest bidder.
One solution is to accept and even encourage the commoditisation of knowledge, if so, Indian universities and research centres should copy their Western counterparts by becoming more and more like corporations. These centres of learning should convert themselves into engines of growth. In this logic if we increase academic salaries and research grants to match IT paycheques we will attract good people into academia, where, in any case. It is rumoured that a certain elusive feeling called 'the quality of life' is better.
[Central Bank of India (PO), 2010]
According to the passage, what did the scientist actually mean when he said, "IT has destroyed Indian Science"