Was Albert Einstein a rich man? Would he drive a Nano, or a more expensive Ferarri? Students from all around Mumbai are visiting the Science Expo at the Nehru Science Centre, Worli, and most want to know whether a career in science is still a lucrative option. “The scientific community is worried because young people don’t want to become scientists anymore. Only big pay packages attract them,” says Anil Manekar, director, of the Nehru Centre.So will the booming economy spell the end for any future Vikram Sarabhais, CV Ramans or Rakesh Sharmas? “Of course not,” says a spokesperson for Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). “Self-motivation and sheer interest will ensure a beginning pay packet of Rs 27,000 at ISRO. A good working culture and scope for fast growth are the added benefits,” he says.
Some say science is the subject for swots. Few practical classes and boring textbooks are taking the magic away. “School text books have inaccurate information and teachers don’t use teaching aids to make lectures interesting,” says Ravi Shankar, head of Audio Visual Outreach Programmes at the Department of Atomic Energy.
Just like Aamir Khan’s Taare Zameen Par showcases new teaching methods, many teachers are trying to make science and math experiments a part of everyday lectures. “Schools like Ryan International, Children’s Academy, and Modern School have shown their interest in atomic energy sessions. They want to make lectures interesting,” says Shankar.
With more than 2,000 visitors every day, Worli’s Nehru Science Centre speaks volumes of the keen interest in science among Mumbaikars. “There was a time when people closed doors and sat at home every time there was a solar eclipse. Things have changed, and now people come out and stare at the sky to get a glimpse of the phenomenon,” says Manekar.
As for the economics of science, not everyone’s worried about the money. Sandeep Yadav, an MSc student sums it up when he says: “I gave up a high-paying IT career to pursue research in oceanography. I love the subject, and that is my only motivation.”