Tuesday, December 22, 2009

SK Brahmachari Manipulates Minister S&T

DG CSIR Brahmachari has used Minister of S&T Prithviraj Chavan’s ignorance of biotechnology to lie to parliament. Chavan, an engineering graduate, believing Brhamachari, told Parliament that sequencing the human genome is a "…unique achievement….” Chavan went on to compare this “achievement” to Chandrayaan-I moon mission.

How can this be a “unique achievement” when sequencing is commercially available, has been around for seven years, and can be done for $5,000? CSIR spent $30,000! Companies such as Complete Genomics, Inc. offer this as a simple service.

Scientists and technologist are speaking out to educate Mr. Chavan from Brahmachari’s hyperboles and lies.

Aravinda Chakravarti of Johns Hopkins University in the US and past president of the American Society of Human Genetics said the claims by the CSIR are "exaggerated."

Pushpa Bhargava, founder of CCMB said “These are the sort of statements that will bring down the credibility of Indian science. I was amused when I read the news reports that India has joined 'elite' league like the US, Britain, Canada, China and (South) Korea.”

D. Balasubramanian, a renowned biologist, said "With good machines you can sequence the human genome in 10 days."

G. Padmanabhan, a leading biochemist and former director of IISc, says there was nothing “striking or unique" in this announcement.

Another scientist at IISc said "You see companies advertising on the internet regularly and the costs are coming down rapidly.”

Brahmachari, in the wake of the CSIR-TECH fallout where his legacy of paper innovations were recently exposed, has been on a PR rampage to save face. This recent publicity stunt has failed and the reality of Brahmachari’s “innovation and science” is exposed.

NOTE: Quotes used in this article are from the Deccan Chronicle dated December 12, 2009

Saturday, December 12, 2009

CSIR Scientist Speaks Out! Bhramachari Victimizes CSIR Scientists for Writing an Honest Report.

This Commentary entitled "Victimization of CSIR Scientists for writing an HONEST Report" by Dr. D. Sardana was received on December 11, 2009 by Freedom for Science.

Mr. Brahmachari, DG CSIR, has not given any answers to the basic questions of CSIR leadership’s inadequacies put forth by me and my co-author Shiva Ayyadurai in our document distributed on October 19, 2009 (entitled CSIR-TECH: The Path Forward - available on this blog.)

In spite of our repeated requests for an open public forum to discuss
our basic questions and newer ones (e.g. OSDD, Soleckshaw, TCGA, CSIR University) as raised in the Nature India article entitled Innovation Demands Freedom, a massive and conscious campaign of defamation and disinformation to demolish us has been unleashed.

We came to India, leaving our homes, friends, family, security, comforts and many opportunities for one reason: to serve India, our motherland. We published our document as a part of our job – to contribute to CSIR. We raised important questions as a part of our job. We were ready to receive any and all feedback, positive or negative, and update the document as a part of our job.

Why were we given a Gag order within 72 hours of publishing this draft report? Was the report not distributed internally, to our own scientists and directors, simply seeking their feedback? What was wrong with the document? If there were any errors, we were willing to make corrections and resubmit as a part of doing my job.

India’s pre-eminent scientist, Dr. P.M. Bharagava, founder director of the CSIR’s CCMB said our Report, was “… a very honest report and accurately identified the challenges within [CSIR].”

Why then has my co-author been so brutally treated, including: 1. Eviction from his house with less than six (6) days notice, 2. Bogus withdrawal of his offer, and 3. Threats to his continued stay in India ?

What gain did Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai have in risking his wonderful bungalow in South Delhi, car, amenities and prestige as one of the youngest to be appointed at the Additional Secretary Level? How many would have taken such a risk?

Dr. Killiguddi Jayaraman published Report Row Ousts Indian Scientist in Nature India. Dr. Jayaraman received significant backlash. Nature India’s Editor, Ms. Priyardarshini Subhra then graciously offered Mr. Brahmachari opportunities to write a rebuttal commentary. Mr. Brahmachari vociferously refused.

Following publication of Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s commentary entitled Innovation Demands Freedom, we have witnessed a vindictive campaign of defamation and intimidation including:

1. A systematic and well-orchestrated use of disinformation and defamation Blogs

2. Fraudulent assignment of Dr. Swapan K. Das and Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai’s names to such blogs

3. Attacks on my co-author’s credentials, disseminating doubts of his being a Faculty Lecturer at M.I.T. Is this CSIR Leadership’s procedure, i.e. to check credentials after terminating, instead of at the time of recruitment? Did they not ask for 10 reference letters prior to offering the STIO/H (i.e. outstanding scientist)post?

4. Misappropriation of statements to others. Entire paragraphs
have been attributed to Dr. Swapan K. Das, who had earlier resigned from IGIB after a dispute with Mr. Brahmachari, when he has unequivocally stated he did not post such comment.

5. Attack on Nature India’s blog within days of the Commentary’s release. Was this coincidental?

6. Sudden termination of Internet access to Shiva Ayyadurai’s business in Chennai within 24 hours of publication of Nature India article and lack of access to www.vashiva.com for nearly 1 day, forcing relocation to U.S. servers. Another coincidence?

7. Multiple direct and indirect threats including incarceration and withholding of passport & visa if Shiva Ayyadurai went to press.

8. Communication from a former colleague at CSIR HQ that I should be ready for “the consequences” if I went public.

All of the above are verifiable through independent inquiry and in an open public forum, only more such examples of CSIR Leadership's ongoing victimization of other scientists using their tactics cover up's, denials, lies and manipulation, as stated in our Report, will come out.

That Nature India Commentary only requested an open public forum with press and media and posed other questions for CSIR leadership. I had truly hoped the Commentary would have resulted in a peaceful and transparent way to reach definitive conclusions, particularly given CSIR’s own homepage prominently displays the National Integration Pledge: “I further affirm that I shall never resort to violence and that I will continue to endeavour towards settlement of all differences and disputes … by peaceful and constitutional means.”

Why has our October 19, 2009 draft report led to all of this, if there is nothing to hide? We did our jobs, and so have the media.

Is it not also odd, as exemplified in the last paragraph in New York Times article Some Indians Find it Tough to Go Home Again written by Heather Timmons, a similar intimidation style of Mr. Brahmachari gets reflected?

Even less than 24 hours ago, why has CSIR leadership threatened and asked Nature India to remove the Commentary published on their web site?

Dr. Bhargava has stated that he “…has seen many cases of vindictiveness in the CSIR, but this is the worst.” (ANI, Nov. 10, 2009)

We have done everything possible on our parts to redress this matter. At this point, we must move on and get our lives back in order.

Dr. Shiva Ayyadurai and I remain deep in our love for India, our people, innovation and science and are only saddened by the havoc that the behavior of CSIR leadership has caused.

Only the Government of India and the mass of scientists at CSIR can now pursue and resolve this matter given Mr. Brahmachari’s continued recalcitrance. If and when that happens we will be happy to participate in the open forum discussion and “independent and impartial inquiry”.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nature India Publishes Great Article: "Innovation Demands Freedom"

On December 1, 2009, Nature India published a Commentary article entitled "Innovation Demands Freedom" .
This Commentary focused on the need for Freedom (e.g. right to dissent and disagree) as the basis for Innovation in India.

The article asks questions concerning "innovations" such as Soleckshaw, OSDD, CSIR University. The article also offers an open invitation to CSIR Leadership to a roundtable-like discussion, with media, tv, etc. present, to review any and all documentation concerning the basis of Dr. Ayyadurai's hiring, his Gag Order, etc.

We at Freedom for Science, believe that such an open invitation, shows courage on Dr. Ayyadurai's part to be transparent in finding the Truth, the basis of scientific inquiry.

We request your support in encouraging CSIR leadership to such an open roundtable discussion. It can only help Indian science and innovation.

Interestingly enough, as of today, CSIR Leadership has moved in the exact opposite direction. Threatened by Dr. Ayyadurai's request, they have resorted to their usual tactics of cover up's denials, disinformation, false allegations to deflect the real issues.

Some of the comments in response to the Nature India article are given below, numbered 1 to 11.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CSIR Leadership: Be Accountable.

The recent events in the press have exposed the mistreatment of CSIR scientists by the feudal leadership at CSIR.  This blog is created in the spirit of freedom and openness to support CSIR scientists and ALL other scientists of India who seek to innovate and create great science.

Let's begin with the leadership of CSIR.  Why have they simply ousted the messengers of THE REPORT (CSIR-TECH: The Path Forward)?  Why have we not even discussed its contents and tried to address the issues? We've taken the liberty of making this report available to all.

Chapter 7 of this draft report says it all.  Nature, New York Times, Hindustan Times, etc. have picked it up. It's clear the real reason that these guys got demolished by Brahmachari and Gag Ordered was because of the report. It provides us the answer why Indian scientists fail to achieve things in India while they accomplish a great deal outside (in Europe or USA). The spiteful retaliatory action by CSIR leadership does not surprise me at all.

Are we not used to media stories of an honest government officer or even an ordinary citizen being castigated and ruined? – Nonetheless one thing that surprises me a lot is the lack of any corrective action taken by PM, who is ironically also the President of CSIR. Should an honest, well-informed, and disciplined leader not take the responsibility early on and do everything possible to rectify the situation gone bad?

I would have definitely thought so especially when he was made aware of the situation long time back (as have been reported in the media). This expectation also comes from his tall media image. I think decision-makers and parliamentarians should read at least 2 chapters – History and Challenges.

There should be an independent time-bound inquiry of the whole CSIR set-up, and the findings of that inquiry should be made public to all.