My tryst with scientific research: part 3


After submitting the thesis, I felt like taking a break of six months or so. My entire struggle has come to an end. The salutation of Dr. was prefixed. It gave a sense of pride and honour. Things were looking great and myself completely relaxed unsure of what future had planned me to offer.

After enjoying the relaxation for about a month, the researcher inside me started grumbling. I started yearning for more. I had come across some of my friends those who joined teaching after finishing their doctorate degree. But I wanted to pursue research. I wanted to join as post doctorate fellow (PDF). Seeing my credentials and publications, my colleagues suggested me to apply abroad for PDF. They said it was comparatively easier to get the PDF outside the country. But I wanted to continue my research in India and contribute to country’s research output.

I has already read in newspapers and internet that the department of biotechnology (DBT) and department of science and technology (DST) call for PDF research associate fellowship, every year. However there was a clause from DST that, ‘The fellowship is normally not availed at the same institution where the candidates have earned their PhD/M.S/M.D degree or with the doctoral thesis supervisor as the mentor’ and from DBT that, ‘The fellowships cannot be availed at the same institution where the candidates have earned their Ph.D./M.D. degree.‘

My colleagues told that though the clause was just one liner with an intention of unbiased research and cross institutional advantages, it is the biggest hurdle in the pursuit of research. They said that no university or academic or research institution allow post doctoral research in India without recommendation or acquaintance according to their knowledge. They said, you may go from pillar to post for admission carrying all your extraordinary credentials but finally no one is going to entertain you. For them, if the candidate or the guide of the candidate is known only one can get the admission. The rules are rules and I was determined. Hence to search a new institution, I net surveyed research institutions in Bangalore. There were many academic and research institutions involved in the research in related areas.

I chose to apply in the University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK for PDF. I went to the campus which was almost 26 km from my house. The ambience was great and the campus was maintained very well. But the vibes gave me the feel that it is difficult to get into such out-of-the-way environment. I met one of the professors and convinced her for being the guide. She agreed but asked me to check with the Director of Education (DOE). I waited for him for about two hours as he was in a meeting. But when I met him, I found him encouraging and helpful. He asked me to put up the application ‘through proper channel’ as the Registrar has the power to issue an ‘NOC’ which is required for applying for PDF under DST or DBT.

Since it was late I thought of attempting the same with the said procedure the next day. I took my application with the bunch of credentials to my ‘would be’ mentor, then to the HOD, who without any queries signed and forwarded the application. Then, Dean Research was to sign the application forwarding it to DOE. He was in a meeting. Getting all the who’s who of a university in a day is not a joke. Anyways, he returned. But the office staff didn’t allow us to meet him. Somehow convincing them we met him. He saw us with great surprise as to who allowed us inside but marked the paper to finance controller. The finance controller asked his assistant to prepare the case. He then forwarded to the dean. The dean then signed and forwarded it to DOE. We also accompanied the assistant carrying the file to DOE office. He was not available. The day too was over. However, the staff was kind enough to tell that they will immediately forward the file to the Registrar.

We went back. Next day I checked over the phone. The DOE staff confirmed that the file has been sent to Registrar office. I called that office. They said that the file has been received and shall be put up to him as per the queue. They assured to inform us over phone. Still I was hopeful.

After few days I got a call from the office of Registrar that my application may not be accepted. I asked for the reason. They said that I do not possess the requisite two years of experience that is must for PDF. I was surprised and confused. Is the experience must for PDF or the PDF must for experience? But anyway the rules are rules. I waited for few days thinking of some miracle, but it didn’t happen and the last date for applying passed.

However, I was still optimistic. Someone suggested that Indian Institute of Science (IISc) is the best in the country for research. It was a great idea and an honour to be part of such a prestigious institute. But again the question asked was, ‘Do you or your guide know anyone there?’ I had confident on my credentials and the doctoral research work. I started applying individually to professors asking for appointment to discuss about my future research plans and proposal. I applied to more than 8 professors, a couple of them didn’t reply, rest of others replied in negative. The reason was, ‘Currently our lab is full’, ’currently I am not taking any PDF’, ‘I do not have any openings right now’ etc. etc. Now I was a bit tensed. Had no one gone through my resume, my research work, and my credentials? But then I consoled myself. May be my standard of research was not good enough to meet the expectations of the academicians. My colleagues who came to know of this ‘failure’, had smile on the face which translated into, ‘We told you. Isn’t it?’

Still, I had hope on our country’s research pathway. There are many institutes, like CIMAP, NCBS etc. They too have the scope for me. I tried one by one sending the proposal, request and the resume. But even after waiting for weeks, I didn’t get any reply. Sometimes it came to my mind whether the e-mail address provided is right or not? But whatever the case may be, the fact was that my credentials didn’t find a place in the research pathway in my city. And, I was not in a position to apply for PDF in another city.

The I came across the notification for Women Component Programme (WoS A) which is a special scheme designed to provide a re-entering opportunity for women scientists, who had to take a career break for personal and family reasons. I had a break of 8 years before joining my M. Phil. and Ph.D. degree. I tried filling up the form but it didn’t accept as it expected break after the last degree. Oh God! That means I need to sit for few years after my doctoral degree to become eligible for applying to this scheme especially designed for women? But, the rules are rules. No wonder why in a country like china, more than 80% of patents are generated by research in china whereas in India, about 80% patents are  originated from research carried out elsewhere.

So, like other great scholars, I too started sending resume to colleges with a mind to change the direction of my career. Seeing that one of my relative asked,’ why didn’t you pursue B.Ed., why have you wasted time in Ph.D. if at all you planned for teaching?’ I had no answer. She was right. After putting in lots of efforts and time in my pursuit for research, today I find myself standing alone burning like a lamp in the galaxy of research institutions that shine like moons, but no one knows where they get the brightness from?


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