CSIR lab scientists bring us immense pride with their exceptional contribution in the field of science and research. But what exactly is a CSIR lab scientist, and how do they work in 38 CSIR research labs? What kind of guidance can they give us about preparing for CSIR job?
We are here with the perfect answer from the accredited person…
Bapuji Maringanti, a former scientist (retired) at Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Bhubaneswar from (1973-2002) shared his candid work experience with Eduncle.
Of all the professions, for me it appears the jobs of a good teacher and a good researcher are the best – one is respected, can continue to use the knowledge far beyond retirement age, can isolate oneself by surrounding with books and stay young with active mind, which may also keep diseases like Alzheimer’s at some distance. Most problems in life could be kept at a distance! Only an obsessed (need not be brilliant) teacher and researcher!
– Bapuji Maringanti
Working Culture of CSIR: How Do Young Scientists Keep Themselves Motivated for Better Innovation?
About 38 labs constitute CSIR – specialising in every conceivable field – of science and engineering.
The facilities are probably the best and comparable to any good research lab abroad. The labs are distributed all over India.
Scientists recruited by one lab are not generally transferred to other labs, though the job is transferable anywhere in India. Administrative staff at senior level is transferred. Director is empowered well.
In some labs, Head of the department or senior to whom the young scientist is assigned, guides and motivates.
Some institutes have a regular system of orienting the young to the objectives of CSIR –
Patenting and transferring technology to the industry.
Helping the industry by solving problems that come up.
Helping the Govt solve societal problems.
Taking up some long-term projects (the industry may not take up by itself because of no or less commercial returns) etc.
It is, however, for the individual scientist to be open to adapt to the CSIR system and to motivate himself/herself. Many of these come unmotivated and remain so.
It is a great pleasure to see one’s technology working in the Industry or be utilised by common man! That is a great motivating factor. It is like seeing one’s child do well in the world.
It is excellent for those who wish to work. There are always many who do not work but get their due promotions etc. That does not deter the working people- they laugh it off.
I know several such great scientists. I believe that we motivate ourselves and are guided by ourselves.
WHEN ONE REALISES THAT IT IS A RARE OPPORTUNITY TO ENTER CSIR LAB, NOTHING CAN STOP HIM / HER ACHIEVE THE GOAL.
How Can One Lead a Project?
Seniority, bossism is generally less – but in some labs, it does exist.
A junior often leads a project and senior works in it. It is the expertise built that decides who leads a project.
One learns to identify the needs of the society/industry and propose to the Research council, who approve and provide funds for the study.
What Kind of Projects are Undertaken by CSIR?
Sometimes, we join a National project and get funds from outside – one would be working with several different institutions.
We worked under Drugs from sea project with almost 10 different institutions- CSIR labs, Universities etc. Indian navy helped us diving almost for 15 years! Coastguard gave ship for 21 days! We worked in mangrove forests and on the sea – great adventure!
Sometimes the industry sponsors work that it needs. There would be periodic review of the progress of the work.
Opportunity to Work:
Scientists can go to any other CSIR or NON-CSIR lab to carry out some part of the work if the facilities are elsewhere.
There are scientific exchange programs with several countries. Many scientists visit/work outside India for different lengths of the period.
How is The Social Life of a CSIR Scientist?
My children grew up in a very healthy environment. People from all states used to celebrate festivals, cultural activities together.
We (from other states) were most stimulated by Odia and Bengali dramas.
We (I was one among them) started a music school in the campus.
Many children received the national fellowship in Dance and music and are now teaching/performing in India and abroad.
IT WAS A GREAT ENVIRONMENT- JOYOUS.
How Much Regards & Respect You Get as a Scientist When Meet People from Different Sectors?
I went to the Police in Andaman late around 8.30 PM seeking help – we had to repair equipment for the next day’s expedition.
Immediately they told us where we could get the necessary material and took us there.
Over wireless communication system, they helped us get our boat the next day on an island and so on.
People everywhere are courteous and helpful. Young students look at you in awe! They would ask many things that we may not know.
In the USA, a batch of standard 1-2 children knew that I am scientist – both parents and children were excited to accompany me in the zoo we were visiting.
I could not answer some of the questions and they looked at me as if saying “you do not know this?”
Children think that a scientist knows everything in the world!
When I go to schools to motivate the students, help the teachers with their lab work etc. You are received well.
We were well received in fishing villages, forest department etc. One DFO with medical help, waited for me till 1 AM when I had a severe stomach infection.
On one lonely beach, when we stranded, fishermen fed us.
Work Pressure & Stress Management as a CSIR Scientist
Often It is self-imposed. We set targets and meet them.
Yes, research advisory council remarks, sometimes admonishes if one does not make progress – it is generally reasonable and not offending.
One can go and work anytime in the day or night- there is no restriction.
Yes, one needs to make entries at the security of arrival and departure. Security is generally tight in all CSIR labs. It is necessary.
Earlier a scientist was not needed to sign attendance register! Now they introduced bio-metrics etc. Even when there is no such restriction, 80-90% scientists used to come in time and do their work.
In several labs, scientists and their research fellows are seen working late into the night! Nobody makes them work-they do it on their own. Often, not for promotion or publications! Exceptions are always there!
Your Experience During the Postdoc in Germany
It was in the year 1979-80.
I learned the German language for 4 months in a village in South Germany, very near to Switzerland.
They put us up with a German family so that we learn their ways and learn to communicate. I was lucky that I was always with good family. Some friends were not that lucky.
Maybe it depends on us? It helped me to see how systematic one could be and how one can produce results much faster and more efficiently.
I worked with Prof. Ferdinand Bohlmann at Technical university, Berlin. He was a workaholic – a great scientist-unassuming.
My wife and daughter (4 years) joined me in Berlin. My wife was given an opportunity to learn the language as well as attend people’s High school free of any charges. My daughter attended a preschool.
They pay allowance for wife and child. I used to work long hours in the lab. Weekends we used to meet friends, visit the countryside, zoo etc. The food was cheap and in great variety.
We never faced any serious problem- people, particularly the young were well receiving us. Indians were treated much better- even our fellowship was higher than several other neighbours!
How is Your Post-Retirement Life?
It has been active, useful life all the time.
One brother is six years older to me is also a Professor and scientist- in spite of Alzheimer’s, he is active, useful to the society, well sought after!
Another brother, two years younger to me is equally interested in scientific solutions to problems in the society.
We three sit together often to work on problems. Two of us are working on fluorosis for the past 4 years- voluntarily and could make an impact at the national level.
The other two of us are working on the improvement of rural and tribal schools, teachers and students. We are also trying to help a good engineering college with research.
You are Always Engaged in Helping People & Young Generation. How do you feel about it?
I consider it as my responsibility and it is the best opium!
I do not give them any money but appropriate encouragement and support take a family from utter poverty to a dignified, good life. They overcome the burden of their caste too!
It is great to see your student appreciated in developed countries like USA and Germany.
I find often the teacher is at fault when a student fails!
A Few Words About Your Current Research
Fluorosis is a problem not just of water purity- it is malnutrition which leads to many other issues. If we can help even a few, it would be great. We are able to help people in large numbers. We are assisting the policy makers too.
What is Your Take on the Status of Women in Indian Society?
I find most even educated women do not know, do not care to know how women are discriminated.
Tortured, subjugated in the world over the millennia. Most do not know about FMG, do not care to stand by a rape victim, do not work to prevent child sexual molestation, do not think of fighting against un-indicated hysterectomy etc.
Woman’s life is burdened by the frequent hormonal change. It must be fought scientifically! The role of a wife has become too stressful- it must change.
Apart from Science, What Entices You the Most?
I am obsessed with classical music- south Indian-north Indian-western-Mediterranean…
I think I can enjoy deeply music. It is ecstatic!
Nowadays, I am observing understanding of animal nature- mind by human beings is increasing.
What we never expected is now being noticed.
An elephant pushes the mud near a high fence and then crosses it!
A lioness protects an injured fox pup and could make other lions join it in protecting the small animals which otherwise could have been their food!
It is going to change our life! Understanding human life from conception to delivery is great! Now well documented- great observations are being made. The world is full of yet-to-be-understood events. Let us enjoy it!
One can move from childhood to death taking it as a burden or taking it happily- it is our individual choice!