Saturday, November 15, 2008

Economics and research

In a recent article, Professor Balaram wonders about the (in)effectiveness of mathematics and physics in modeling financial markets. In an another article in NY Times, the authors wonders whether the financial market crash would lead to the best and brightest, who had gone into Wall Street, to do scientific research and maybe even solve global warming.

In his blog, the Ponderer says

The Wall street guys provide a valuable service - but that service remains, briefly summed up, they move large amounts of money around, and make the process a little more efficient and supposedly a little more safe (perhaps not?). In no way or form the benefit to society even remotely approaches those of teachers, or medical doctors or scientist working on eradicating deceases or creating a new device. Wall street guys get compensated with a lot of money because they are in charge of moving huge amounts of money.
Compensation for employees on Wall Street averaged $399,360 in 2007, whereas an average professor in a top university in the US earned less than half of that.

What does the economic crash mean for Indian research? Prior to the economic/IT boom, in the 1990s, nearly 80-90% of the graduating B.Tech students from IITs used to go abroad for higher studies. In 2007, this number has dropped to 16%. Even worse, the numbers who continue to pursue their core profession (mechanical, chemical, civil engineering etc.) has significantly dropped in the last few years. However, this economic fallout has resulted in the number of people writing GATE to increase by nearly 50% this year. Maybe more students may likely consider research and education to be possible career positions but unless the attitude that "You get to do what you love and thus money should not matter" does not change, it is unlikely to happen.

No comments: