by Dr Ali Khwaja

Angela Merkel worked as a scientist in Academy of Sciences in Berlin, started as a volunteer in the political party, became its President in 2000, and then the Chancellor of Germany in 2005.

Nearer home, Sir C V Raman had a love for Physics, but gave the Civil Services exam and became an Assistant Accountant General. He would keep visiting the Science Association, and impressed them so much that Calcutta University made him Prof. of Physics despite no qualification. He went on to win the highest awards, including Nobel Prize, and was then given Bharat Ratna.

Nobel Prize winner for Chemistry in 2009 for his work in ribosomes and protein synthesis, Venkatraman Ramakrishnan (Venky) could not get into IIT or Medicine because he failed in both entrance examinations. He did his BSc in Physics from MS University, Baroda, finished in 1971 and then went to the US.

In the twenty-first century, when sky is not the limit, there are endless opportunities for anyone who knows what he is good at, and works steadfastly in that field. If you have the guts to shed the “herd” mentality, have a mind of your own, and create a path where none existed, read on:

In recent years, there has been a wide awakening and return to basic sciences as the foundation of a good education and career. A graduation in pure sciences has in fact created several success stories.

When lakhs of students are busy with CET, JEE, NEET, CPT, CLAT, and innumerable other entrance exams, the wiser ones will be those who consider making a strong academic background through science. They will be wiser, more mature, and more knowledgeable to select any career of their choice. Also, since majority of the bright students aim solely for IITs and other engineering courses, getting admission in the best of science courses is not as competitive. In fact, not many are aware that after a Masters in Pure Sciences, one can seek admission in an IIT for an MSc (Tech) course too.

Today excellent undergraduate and integrated (undergraduate + masters) courses in various streams of science are offered by very prestigious and established educational institutions in India, such as IITs, NITs, BITS, IISc, IISERs, to name a few.

Due to low capital cost, expanding international markets and significant tax incentives, the IT sector started offering salaries unparalleled in history, with quick promotions, high rate of switching jobs, and availability of easy finance. However, already the signs are visible of a downturn, with computers becoming more and more user friendly. Just as the biotechnology boom went bust leaving tens of thousands of graduates and engineers without jobs, the day is not far off when software programmers are slowly replaced by automation and robots. Considering that, students who are entering their college studies now are likely to be working for half a century or more, they need to plan their future from a long-term perspective.

Change is taking place so rapidly that the most successful among the Gen-Y in the long run will be those who are adaptable and have multiple intelligences, so that they can be relevant and efficient with every advance of technology and work-style. Those who specialize in a field of engineering or one area of expertise may find it difficult to unlearn and relearn. Hence a strong foundation in basic sciences will enable the person to imbibe, learn and grow in whatever new careers and work requirements he faces. In fact, many students at 17 or 18 years of age are unable to discern their strengths or even their core interests, and take up professional courses highly unsuitable to them due to pressure from parents or peers. This is the reason why institutions such as IISc take up students after 12th for their 4-year BS course, teach them all the sciences for two years, and then ask them to choose their specific subject to study deeper.

Countries like USA insist on a student completing basic graduation before being admitted to medical college. Only after 5 years of studying medicine, even in India, one selects the course for becoming a surgeon, physician, or specialist in one area.

To take this step on the road less traveled, the upcoming students, and more so their parents, need to think beyond the herd mentality and have a vision of planning for their entire career, which does not end with campus placement, but goes on for many decades towards the very end of life. Following are some prestigious institutions offering courses in Science:

  • IISERs (Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research)
  • Indian Institute of Space Science & Technology, Thiruvananthapuram
  • IITs and NITs
  • BITS (Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad)
  • Indian Institute of Astrophysics, Bangalore
  • IISc (Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore)
  • National Centre for Biological Sciences
  • Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
  • Institute of Mathematics & Applications, Bhubaneswar
  • National Institute of Science Education & Research (NISER) at Mumbai and Bhubaneswar

Courtesy: Deccan Herald, May 02, 2013

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