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August 5, 1998


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They're losing their mind!-The resignation of India's supercomputing pioneer Dr Bhatkar has sparked an exodus at C-DAC. The Centre for Development of Advanced Computing is facing an exodus of scientists and engineers leading to considerable delay in marketing the Param range of supercomputers that the pioneering government organisation produces. Email this story to a friend.

Sources at C-DAC say that following the resignation of the two senior-most executives including Executive Director Dr Vijay Bhatkar, recently, a series of resignations followed and this delayed the setting up of a commercial wing to market Param and other products and services.
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Dr Bhatkar, credited with leading a team in designing a range of Param supercomputers including Param 10000 which was unveiled in March this year, went on leave for 18 months. The Param 10000 machine is the most powerful supercomputer in the developing world and the largest in Asia after Japan.

After Dr Bhatkar's quitting, C-DAC's director in Bangalore, Sasi Kumar, resigned to take up a high-profile job in a computer training institute.

This was followed by a spate of resignations from all levels of the organisation, which is an autonomous body under the Department of Electronics.

A K Arora, a senior director of DoE in charge of research and development, who took over from Dr Bhatkar, is engaged in a fire-fighting mission to persuade scientists and engineers to stay back.

Arora has told the staff that an exodus from an organisation such as C-DAC would be demoralising to the nation, especially at a time when the country is reeling under pressure from anti-nukes sanctions.

Arora has completed one round of talks with all sections of the employees in an effort to retain them in the organisation. "Much headway has been made by him in his interaction with the employees," a senior DoE official claims.

Official C-DAC sources, however, dismiss this as a common phenomenon with the computer industry, and say "8 to 10 per cent of resignations, which is reported from the rest of the industry, is there in C-DAC too".

The organisation faced difficulty in matching salary levels with the rest of the industry because of the government status, he said conceding that it was the major reason for the brain drain.

Department of Electronics Secretary Ravindar Gupta was not available for comments. C-DAC spent Rs 2.5 million to train personnel in 1996-97. It is estimated that it spent over Rs 4 million the previous year and much more this year.

C-DAC has been planning a company to market supercomputers, software and services. It has sold one supercomputer each to the Institute of Computer-Aided Design, Moscow, and a university in Singapore.

A few systems have been sold to Indian organisations for a wide range of applications. Its commercial division had a turnover of Rs 160 million last year and Rs 115 million the previous year.

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