A different side of Infosys... the view from an InStepper
Written by Samuel Peat who interned with Infosys in the summer of 2013. Sam is a student of London School of Economics and during his internship with Infosys he worked with the Infosys Science Foundation.
Infosys is globally renowned for its sector leading corporate culture, across boundless areas - from environmental practices to the quality of its famous campus in Bangalore. Whilst those in the outside are aware of this reputation, it is hard to visualize its impact until you become an employee. However, once you become an employee, it is easy to forget the benefits of this fantastic corporate culture as the daily grind takes over. One of the manifestations of this culture is the substantial contribution the company makes to corporate social responsibility programs, from the notebook runs to the Infosys Science Foundation where I'm working during my InStep internship.
The Infosys Science Foundation strives to raise the profile of academic research within India and also encourage young Indians to see scientific research as a viable career option. These are very relevant areas of importance for India. As Prof Varghese, Professor of Physics at the University of Calcutta, notes, careers in science are not seen as attractive as careers in business administration and politics. Moreover, India only has a mere 10 million PhD students compared with over 20 million in China. Facts which must only be a worry for a country which must further develop its high value knowledge-based industries.
The foundation addresses some of these issues by awarding the Infosys Prize, which is the largest in terms of purse in India, in six categories from physics to social science. By doing this, the Infosys Prize supports science within India but also creates role models in the scientific arena for young Indians to emulate. Since the awards inception the award has recognized Indian scientists of the highest caliber such as Dr. Chetan E. Chitnis, whose research contributed to the creation of the first viable vaccine for malaria. Not only does the award make a substantial financial difference to these scientists, it helps to raise their profile as a result of the prize ceremony which is held every year and receives attention from the media. The lecture series run by the foundation which features the laureates spreads awareness about their work and research in general.
During my time working for the foundation, I am seeking to measure how prestigious and well respected the Infosys Prize has become. I have had the opportunity to speak with leading academics within India and abroad, such as Prof Amartya Sen. While it is clear that academics within India are facing a tough uphill struggle compared with their colleagues in the west, there have been two overwhelming positives that have come out of my discussions. Firstly, amongst the highly respected scientists I have spoken to there is a strong feeling that the quality of many of the laureates of the prize has been world class, which demonstrates that research of a high level is being conducted within India. Secondly, the laureates I speak to are appreciative of the existence of such a good quality academic prize within India and feel that the prize is having a positive impact upon their work, highlighting the success of this relatively young foundation.