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Indian Scientists Claim Lab Corruption

NEW DELHI--A union of scientists has accused India's main civilian scientific agency of widespread corruption and mismanagement. The All India CSIR Scientific Workers Association (SWA), which represents some 5000 Indian scientists, filed a 1600-page lawsuit today in the state of Delhi's High Court against the Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).

The suit contends that embezzlement, favoritism, and scientific misconduct are rife at CSIR, a conglomerate of 40 national laboratories with an annual budget of about $100 million and about 8000 scientists. Maringanti Bapuji, an organic chemist and general secretary of SWA, says "Approaching the judiciary was the only option left, as CSIR had not cared to respond to complaints till now." The union is hoping that the courts will order CSIR to streamline and reform its management, allowing more money for research.

To back up its claims, the SWA levels many specific charges, such as alleged plagiarism of published scientific papers by a senior scientist at the Regional Research Laboratory in Bhubaneswar. The union also claims that a director of a laboratory has appointed his son and daughter-in-law as scientists in his own institute.

CSIR spokesperson Tulsi Das Nagpal says he cannot comment on a pending case. But he claims that "the charges leveled are vague and baseless, and [CSIR] will file a response in the court if the court so desires." The court is expected to announce next week whether it will review the charges.