For school-leavers in India with a flair for maths and science there is usually only one sensible choice: get an engineering degree, which will almost guarantee a well-paid job in industry. In sharp contrast, natural-science degrees such as physics have become viewed as something you might only do if you failed to get onto an engineering course. To find out more, I recently travelled to India to meet some of these student "rebels" who have rejected the glamour of engineering to instead pursue their passion for the physical sciences. In this documentary, the students talk about their motivations, their ambitions, and the pressures that come with living in one of the most populous – and economically polarized – societies on the planet.

Physics World podcast: India's physics rebels
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On my journey through the state of Maharashtra I also met some of the nation’s academics and educators to find out whether anything is being done to encourage more students to consider careers in fundamental science. The Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared the 2010s a "decade of innovation", which he believes will be powered by an overhaul of science education – but does the rhetoric match the reality? In addition to this podcast, you can read about the state of science education in India, and about the country's leading physics labs, in this Physics World special report.

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