2,900 scientist positions lying vacant, says Union Science Minister

We have devised a formula to fill the posts over time, says Director-General, CSIR

There are nearly 2,900 vacancies for scientists in the institutes supported by the Department of Science Technology (DST), said Union Science Minister Harsh Vardhan in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

The bulk of the vacancies are in laboratories and institutes of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The CSIR-Central Food and Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore has 111 posts vacant, the CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology (IICT), Hyderabad 102 and the CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, has 123 vacancies.

The CSIR isn’t looking to fill all posts at a go but has devised a recruitment formula and fill the posts over time.“Filling it at a go would mean a similar shortfall after, say 20 years. What we’re doing instead is following a formula that accounts for existing vacancies, the number of scientists who will retire. So we’ll fill these vacancies over time,” Shekhar Mande, Director-General, CSIR, said. He declined to specify the time-frame.

The DST saw a marginal hike in the allocation in the 2019 Budget — ₹5,321 crore, which is ₹207 crore more than the 2018-19 Budget — and the CSIR was allocated ₹4,895 crore, up from the ₹4,572 crore last year.

The Minister said the government was working to fill the gaps. “As and when a vacancy arises, the concerned laboratory/institute initiates steps to fill it up in accordance with the extant rules.”

While on one hand there are several schemes to attract more students, women and disadvantaged groups to scientific careers, India has had challenges in ensuring decent jobs for researchers.

For instance, a fellowship called INSPIRE that pays an assured salary to promising researchers for a fixed period and allows them to establish themselves in scientific institutions has invited criticism for not being able to ensure enough jobs for several of them after they complete their fellowships.

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