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Why Research?
by Prof. Shubha Tiwari Bookmark and Share

There’s a sharp decline in inclination towards genuine research in our country. There’s a big bulk of bogus research as well. This does not auger well for the future of India. Here are some straight forward reasons as to why research is essential and why it should be encouraged.


The starved can’t go for research. It’s a passion to take up an intellectual challenge, explore the limits of human knowledge and do something anyone else has not done before. It’s here funding comes into picture.

There’s no denying the fact that in our country very contradictory trends co-exist. The size, the multiplicity, and the variety defy homogeneity. This may be good for other areas but for research it’s appalling. There’s genuine research work, projects, and missions going on in premier institutions but a lot of crap is being passed as research in ordinary institutions. The number of ordinary institutions is certainly higher; therefore the quantity of trash is also much higher than genuine research.
One of the many challenges before higher education system in our country is decentralization and dispersing of good institutions. All saw the media frenzy when the cut off for admissions in Delhi University reached 100%. Everyone raised eyebrows; everyone was concerned. This is an unhealthy precedent. There should be good teaching, good research and good training in all parts of the country. When the entire population will rush to Delhi for admission, naturally, there will be problem.
When it comes to research, the obvious question is why anyone should pursue research? Genuine research is a lavish activity. The starved can’t go for research. It’s a passion to take up an intellectual challenge, explore the limits of human knowledge and do something anyone else has not done before. It’s here funding comes into picture. In an ideal situation, every research endeavour should be funded. No research should be allowed if it is not funded. The funding can, of course be private or public, depending on the nature of research.
There’re a number of good reasons at the individual as well as at the societal level as to why good research should be encouraged. All technology - applied engineering, gadget- making, instruments-making, and equipments-making - ultimately depends on research. Farming, town planning, and climate conservation – everything originates from research. If research is funded, its direction will also be directed towards societal betterment. Research improves the quality of the people’s life. It strengthens economy. Research is directly related to prosperity of a given society.  
At the individual level, an ideal person for research is one who is ready to take up intellectual challenge. The researcher gets to learn number of transferable skills, computer skills, communication skills, as well as writing skills. A genuine researcher automatically becomes part of a friendly international community. A work on highly relevant real life problem is amazingly satisfying. Research work gives immense satisfaction in a unique way. The world of research is a world of its own. Travel, conferences, collaborations, workshops- it’s a complete package in itself.
Genuine scientific research is the demand of the hour. For example, analyzing neural potential data recorded from different parts of the brain can give insight into thinking and decision-making process of an individual. Medical research will become affordable if we could structure protein shapes from the amino acid sequences that make them. There could be hundreds of other examples.

Efforts must be made to encourage research.                                                     


Brain alone is not sufficient; proper canalization of intelligence is more important.

There are no clear cut boundaries among arts, humanities, social sciences and all other streams of knowledge that do not fall into sciences. There are a number of interfaces and many areas of overlap. The meeting points among streams of knowledge are fascinating and illuminating. This is truer in our times when disciplines are continuously evolving and researchers are developing new ways of approaching the study of human cultures and social phenomena. Reading Aristotle and Plato may not only lead to literature, social sciences, and fine arts but also to sciences. Compartmentalization of knowledge has been done for the sake of convenience and for obstruction. Interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary academic activities immensely enrich the individual as well as the society.
Thinking societies have a long life. Societies which do not think, do not sort out existential issues, do not encourage free thought and do not respect diversity of the thought processes perish sooner. When Iqbal in his famous lines says, ‘Yoonan, Misre, Roma, sab mit gaye jahan se, kuchh baat hai ki hasti miti nahi hamari’; he is actually referring to the unobstructed flow of pure thought in this part of the world. High quality, noble, and unbiased abstract thought concretizes itself into good human beings and healthy social institutions.
This is what arts, social sciences and humanities give to the nation and the society; they create noble human resource and efficient institutions. Brain alone is not sufficient; proper canalization of intelligence is more important. Satan was very intelligent; so was Ravan; so was Kansa; and so was Duryodhan. But they were directionless; they were not good students of arts, and humanities.
Study of arts and humanities is like air passing through our nostrils. Food, shelter, and clothes may be enough for animals but arts make man, a human being. It is the most basic need of a human being to make sense of life. We have to understand, express, and explain life, creation, God, and our experiences. Human beings do not like chaos; they like order, clarity. This clarity of vision comes from arts.
Research into arts and humanities comes from a desire to peer deeply into experience and self. By this exercise we question ourselves and by questioning ourselves, we renew ourselves. Those who do not think become caricatures, dead but moving bodies. Unthinking human beings are even worse than the dead because they borrow ideas from others and act on them mindlessly and thus harm the society. Every human being who calls herself/ himself educated must have some idea of the finer aspects of life embodied in the study of arts and humanities. In order to be living, every human being has to keep growing. Study of arts gives one an idea of one’s limitations as well as capacities. 
Why is it that no system really works?

It is because of the quality of human resource which in manning the system. Proliferation of arts inculcates democratic values like tolerance, pluralism and freedom. No present day society can function without these values. Past has to be changed. Past books, past customs, past ideas continuously need to be reinterpreted. Past is an organic entity which exists to give us energy. Any view of past which says that we will do what our ancestors did without applying our own mind, without gauging the implications, any such view of past is fatal. We live in an ever changing world and therefore our ideas must also always grow.
Research defines as well as shapes the way we live, work, and the way we relate to each other. This process must go on.

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