CFTRI: call for ‘accountability check’

 The Central Food Technology Research Institute (CFTRI)  takes up a sizeable  chunk of Mysore’s real estate.  Does the R & D done here and its benefits to  society add up to justify the size and scale of CFTRI’s Mysore establishment?

I find an answer in Dr Potty’s blog.  Where it says that CFTRI hasn’t come up with any new product since 1994.  Dr V H Potty, a former CFTRI deputy director  who blogs on food technology,   calls for an ‘accountability check’ by an  experts panel to find out how public funds earmarked for R & D are spent.

Referring to CFTRI’s  infrastructure,  an insider says the pilot plant and workshop on the campus are idle.  The person who comes up with this shocking info doesn’t identify himself in the blog,  saying  “I wish I could write my name but having been bitten by him (CFTRI chief), I don’t think one has the  patience to fight him”.  According to this anonymous commenter,  in-house printing press, the supporting sections of the workshop, such as smithy,  foundry, carpentry, “are going waste”.

Dr Potty’s blog is an outcome of   collective frustration of the retired scientists,  who still retain their commitment to research in food technology.  As this technologist-blogger put it, ” Many retired scientists who are no more  in active service in their chosen field but are still committed to the  subject have been watching helplessly the high decibel claims like 1,000 patents, earth shaking technological achievements without any basis, tsunami  heroics and call for help from Katrina flood victims for foods, the supposed bonding with industry,  getting many regional,  national,  international and  extra terrestrial laurels for many of the imaginary achievements, etc etc etc .”  Dr Potty reckons it is time the  ‘helpless watchers’  in the scientific  community stood up to “call the bluff”.

The blog has evoked considerable response, going by the number and the  substance of commments. But then the anonymity of an overheming proportion of  comments  undermines the force of their advocacy. The plain-talking  Dr Potty could do with more backers  who are prepared  ‘to stand up and be counted’. 

Anyway,  Dr Potty’s blog should serve as a wake-up call for CFTRI administrators.  Two things are clear,  even without having  an ‘accountability check’.

1)  CFTRI should be more transparent to the public,  by encouraging visitors to the campus;  and  conducted tours of its faciities  during designated visiting days.

2)  Share under-utilised infrastructure such as the printing press, foundry, carpentry and other worshops with other public sector agencies in need of such facilitices.  CFTRI can do with an infrastructure audit  to ensure proper use and better maintenance of facilities developed with tax-payers money.

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3 Responses

  1. Sad there is so much corruption…Im glad you are doing this by at least showcasing such issues..wish you a great 2009

  2. CFTRI is just one white elephant among a cluster of white elephants called national laboratories, following the dreams of Nehru. Nehru invited PMS Blacket, the Nobel Prize winner to advice him about centres of excellence
    after ‘ his tryst with destiny’. The usual compromises went into and these so called centres of excellence were created with jobs galore.

    After these decades none of them delivered anything tangible. The National Aeronautical Laboratory (NAL) is an excuse as India is buying F16 fighter jets, bought Jaguar and Mirage fighter jets. NAL and HAL together were intended to produce such aircrafts civil and military. Then the Russian MIG factory came along.

    Just name one other national laboratory which has produced any product or process that justifies its existence.

    Those were the days when the object of exercise was to save the import through hard currency. These days, with Dollars stashed in every Indian home, the object of the above exercise seems futile.

    Coming to back to CFTRI, yes, the officers took plenty of their developed products to home for tasting but gave up after finding them useless.
    What CFTRI did was to inflate the rent and property prices in Mysore as its employees were paid Central Government salaries and perks. Of course, they wanted their own school inside their vast expanse of land and to serve they needed vehicles etc.. etc.. Their officers and director were paid fat salaries and perks for producing- nothing!!

    Of late came instant tamarind powder for lucrative NRI market, but these days NRIs consume more beef and burgers than the natives! No use for these tamarind powder either. Where such items are necessary, they are supplied by enterprising Asian diaspora in Kenya, Australia and NewZealand.

    CFTRI stands out as the futile Nehru dream and an edifice of what Indian can achieve. Like every dream hatched out by India, it is fizzling out. With halfa billion below poverty line, corruption every where, terrorism becoming norm,
    India wants to conquer the moon and space! You might still have a few more white elephants coming along!!

    Want to see similar institutes working, go to China or Singapore.

  3. Corruption, pollution, terrorism… the world seems to be on the brink of disaster. We have to contribute in our own small capacities to improve the situation for a better world for our children.

    I wish you and yours a Very Happy and Safe New Year!

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