Indian universities produce 35-50 PhDs/year in CompSci

The Financial Times has been focusing on India’s research prowess over the last few days. Interesting fact that goes against the discourse of India Rising, especially with respect to the ‘knowledge economy’:

In computer science, Indian universities produce only about 35 to 50 PhDs a year. In science, engineering and technology, India produces a total of about 7,000 PhDs a year, according to the World Bank. By comparison, the US produces 1,000 computer science PhDs a year. Ironically, many US doctoral students are Indians.

“In fact, there are about five times as many PhDs of Indian origin in the US compared with India, so there is no question about talent,” says P. Anandan, managing director of Microsoft Research Lab India in Bangalore, speaking at a Microsoft conference on innovation this week.

These two graphics from the NSF’s excellent Science and Engineering Indicators 2006 report provide some context, both in the US and in Asia.


The same piece in the FT notes that the last Nobel Prize in the sciences that an Indian was awarded was in the 1930s. Of course the politics and biases of the Nobel Prize selection process are well known in research circles, though these facts are food for thought in the need for periodic ‘reality checks’ (much like Demos’ India: the Uneven Innovator pamphlet (January 2007) sought to do, to a degree).

Speaking of the uneven institutional geographies of this year’s Nobel Prize for the sciences, check out the latest entry in Beerkens’ blog.

Kris Olds