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In my previous two articles ‘What is research?: Role of parents and schools in child’s research attitude’ and ‘What is research?: Foundation of universities as research system’ I tried to explain how to design and develop two system: Child(future researcher) and University (research system). This article is a case study which will demonstrate what are the factors led IISc to win the race of research leader in India. This will be the last email in the series.

Unlike other games, business is different because there is chance of win-win for both the players. Let us understand with whom company as an organisations plays with.


Figure: Value net of business

You may be aware with all of players except complementor. Let me brief about it. A player is your complementor if customer value your product more when they have the other player’s product than when they have your product alone. An ancient Indian concept of residential facilities to students is best example of complementor. One important observation from ruins of ancient Indian universities is hostels for students. This provided protected environment for foreign students where only like minded people will be available. In modern day scholarships serve the purpose of complementor. Sometime having university itself serves the purpose of complementor in development. For example university founded in an university town some 100 years ago and now it has become town with all the facilities.

Sometime it is possible a player may look like competitor but in fact he may be complementor. Traditional bookstores saw electronic publishing and Internet as competitors but in fact they were complementor. A McGraw hill study revealed that demand in print version grew too when it created electronic version of book. This is why almost all the publishers now have electronic stores and kindle version of books.

Government: A Player Which Can’t Be Avoided

Have you ever thought why government is so powerful? It is customer when buy goods and services e.g. medicine, armaments. Govt is supplier when sell oil and mineral rights, spectrum rights. Govt is competing with private business when opens market for private companies. Govt is complementor when provides basic infrastructure (roads, cities, hospitals), civil order, security. Apart from all of above govt has one more power which others don’t have, power to formulate and impose policies. Power of govt to frame policies put it in most dominant position among all of us. Our day to day business deal with govt and that is why I strongly recommend understanding of law and constitution on which govt function.

This power of authority to change rule can put a player in very powerful position. For example few years back researcher was considered as good if published in higher Impact Factor (IF) journals. But in recent time many such journals started in India and developing countries and scientific bureaucrats from developed countries sitting in position of scientific policy making saw potential threat against their monopoly. Those bureaucrats devised new rule to maintain their monopoly: Science Citation Index (SCI). They mentioned SCI recognized journals have rigorous review procedure (How to define level of rigorousness. Rigorousness is relative thing!) and that is why it is more reliable. This is how they surpassed all the previous rules with this and subjugated researchers from developing countries. Irony is researchers and govts from developing countries are blindly following this SCI without giving a single thought on it. Researcher from developing countries have to face lot of trouble because they are playing the game setup and codified by developed countries and obviously it will be biased to benefit them. We are following it blindly without understanding intention.

Note: A socialist concept is that ‘Govt is sole authority on everything’ while current Indian govt has opened its doors for PPP. It pleases me when I see someone saying “Lets make it together” rather than “I am the only authority to do it”.

University as a Player

Students are university’s primary customers. Companies are customers when they want to hire their employees who are students in university. Govt is customer when commission research project to university. Faculties are primary suppliers of university who supplies knowledge. Universities compete with each other for students, faculties, and research funding. While universities are complementors in creating market for higher education. KG, primary, high schools complement universities because they provide trained students to university.

Where IISc Won?

As outlined in my previous article on foundation of university as a research system I outlined what to do to make system immortal and stronger. IISc has self correcting mechanism through Senate, CoD meetings. It has one of the largest scientific library in India. It has world class faculties. It has world class course content and structure. It has quality facilities for students to conduct cultural activities of their interest. Since IISc is research system, who is in business of providing knowledge, it is important to understand in the context of game of business explained in above figure.


As I mentioned, students are university’s primary customers. IISc has maintained its standard of admitted students’ quality through rigorous admission procedure. Students are given hostel, mess, auditorium etc facilities. Students are given freedom to explore their area of nonacademic interest. A proper feedback and grievance system motivated student to continue research at IISc. Parents are paying fees and they are also customers. Quality of courses offered, quality of laboratories, quality of library size are satisfactory return of their money. Timely completion of research projects with quality built trust among funders and developed ‘IISc Brand’.


Quality of faculty is the best in India and directors were active in recruiting best faculties. Also, faculties are given facilities, freedom to be with IISc. The previous directors of IISc have always emphasized on quality of faculties recruited. Own supplier database and stores helped researchers availability of raw material in IISc itself.


IISc has always maintained complementing approach towards competitors rather than competing.


IISc played key role in development of its own complementors e.g. dept. of AE IISc palyed crucial role in formation of NAL in 50s, IISc played supportive role in progress of RRI, IAS, ISRO etc. This created a Research Network in Bangalore. Local employment complemented IISc. Dual career couples become common since there are plenty of software industries and other industries in Bangalore where spouse can work. A freedom to students to organise cultural activities is also complement to IISc.


Core foundation principals of IISc are of Indian university system. There are three important aspect of university namely quality of students admitted (customers), quality of faculties (suppliers), and facilities to students (complementors). Proper emphasis on all of these gave it advantage over other universities (competitors). I think there were important factors which promoted Jamsedji to set up IISc in Bangalore.

  • At that time Mumbai, Culcutta, Madras (all these universities were funded by state) and other major cities already had universities and there is no point in competing with them.

  • Another factor could be because Bangalore was one of the summer headquarter of Britishers. Founding university in Britisher area is demonstration of Indian prowess.

  • Maharaja of Mysore was willing to donate land which solved the problem of availability of huge land required to setup institute.

Trained students from IISc joined industries in Bangalore city and right now Bangalore has become ‘Research Lab of India’ because of having many govt and private research centers. So, contribution of IISc in India’s progress is significant. The factors why IISc has won the race of research education in India are summarized below.

  • Climate and location of Bangalore city.

  • Proper balance between players like Customers (Quality of students admitted), Suppliers (Quality of faculties), Complements (hostels, auditorium, research network, pension after scholarship ends, Research Associateship).

  • Playing role in development of its own complementors e.g. RRI, IAS, NAL, CPRI, ISRO etc.

  • Creating complementing/supporting approach towards other research institutes rather than competing.

  • Smartly implementing ‘System Fundamentals’ in institute.

  • Maintaining and strengthening institute assets like laboratories, library, course content.

  • Openness to promote interdisciplinary research.

I think IISc has built itself as a research leader and not bureaucrat. As leader think about for his followers first, IISc has always thought about her followers first i.e. freedom and independence to faculties and students. Researcher can’t do proper research if he is dissatisfied in personal matter and freedom is most important personal matter. We all would like to be free and independent!

ઝબકારો: Bureaucrats think about executing orders issued by  system while leader think about people for whose benefit system is designed. Bureaucracy born since when governance born while leadership was always there since civilizations; Ram, Krushn, Mahavir, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Guru Nanak. We love and follow all of them because they have always thought about us.