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.