Indian scientific researchers' salaries compare well with their counterparts in Europe, according to a new report.
The report, commissioned by the European Commission, compares the gross and net 2006 salaries of researchers in public and private sectors of research across 38 countries. Data was compiled from national databases and surveys.
The report shows that once the cost of living is calculated, Indian scientific researchers are paid better than researchers in many European Union countries.
But Amar Nath a senior economist in the autonomous research body National Institute of Public Finance and Policy in New Delhi, India, says that not all Indian researchers are well paid.
"There are institutes which do share the earnings from research projects with the researchers involved, but that is not the same as saying that the remuneration earned is comparable with what is offered by non-Indian research bodies."
The commonly cited example is that of the global professional services firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which offers salaries as high as five hundred thousand rupees (US$12,680) a month to researchers like Nath who would be ordinarily paid between 30,000–40,000 rupees (US$760–1,014).
Another researcher, who did not wish to be named, said that institutions charge clients over a hundred thousand rupees (US$2,536) a month while the scientists conducting the research are paid a pittance.
For example, a project for which an institute may charge over nine million rupees (US$228,194) may cost just seven hundred thousand rupees (US$17,748) with temporary staff hired for the work. There are huge earnings but these seldom get passed on to the researchers, says the researcher.
The purpose of the report, published last month, was to create a more attractive Europe for researchers and young people entering a scientific career, "the final aim of which is to become a more knowledge-based society''.
According to the report, scientists in China lag behind in remuneration even after local cost of living is taken into account.
However, the authors warn this may not be entirely accurate, as the calculations are based on a 1986 coefficient calculated by the World Bank. This employs a different methodology than that used for other countries and does not take into account the recent rise of China's economy.