THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Circa 1945. August 6, that year was a Monday. A Monday that has great significance in human history. Turning a blind eye to the protests by scientists across the world, who had worked on the forces that held an atom together, an atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima.
As many as 60,000 men, women and children were killed. Over a lakh injured. And a whole city destroyed by blasts and by fire. Japan had to acknowledge defeat. World War II came to an end. But Science hung its head in shame.
Over the decades, blunders, scandals and corruption have hit Science in the face. This city of Ananthapuri too had witnessed illegal drug trials, followed by publishing of cooked-up data by scientists most respected. But it never got over with that. The saga continues.
Last week, a scientist at the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) headquarters was suspended, pending enquiry, on alleged charges of corruption. The scientist, who was in charge of the KSCSTE fellowships for research students, had allegedly taken money (in five figures) from the students for clearing the formalities of the research scholarships.
‘’There is prima-facie evidence that the scientist is guilty of the crime. The suspension will be followed by a detailed enquiry and if the allegations are found to be true, strict action will follow,’’ said KSCSTE executive vice-president V N Rajasekharan Pillai, who had examined the bank account to which the students were asked to remit money.
Research fellowships are granted to the most promising and brilliant students in the subject areas of Agricultural Sciences, Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Chemical Sciences, Earth System Sciences, Engineering Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences and Taxonomy (Botany and Zoology).
Moreover, only post-graduates securing one of the first five ranks in any of the Universities of Kerala are eligible for the fellowship. ‘’It is extremely sad that these students were made victims of such a corruption. There shall be a detailed enquiry into all the fellowships granted,’’ said Rajasekharan Pillai.
An unfortunate episode in the scientific scenario of the state, this corruption charge has shocked the scientific community, especially the scientific staff at the KSCSTE, who expressed pain and concern. Further, it puts the whole lot of research funds and grants under a cloud of suspicion.
To err is human, but to knowingly break the rules is another matter. And breaking rules in such manner could destroy the lives of many potentially bright students of science.
(Sci-bug takes you across the world, from test-tubes and petri-dishes to the farthest corners of the planet and beyond, wherever science makes interesting findings. Keep track of the bug, every Saturday. And do not forget to give us a feedback on firstname.lastname@example.org)