So, I still haven't decided which way I am going. I have spoken to a bunch of people in India, in my field, who also followed similar trajectories like mine. The impression I get is that pharma R&D is pretty nascent in India, and not really doing much discovery to speak of, not in the areas that I am looking to contribute. On the other hand, academia is enjoying more funding, more encouragement and is a much more attractive option now than it was earlier. My feeling is that at least in academia, I will be in control of the quality of science I do, which is what my ultimate goal is, to do good quality science.
The good thing that came out of these discussions is that a good few people- again senior to me but in my immediate field- feel that I have a very good CV and am competitive enough to apply for academic jobs in the good institutes in India. That has bolstered my confidence a lot. I am slipping back into the mode where I wanted to be in academia for all the things I liked about it- the opportunities to teach, mentor, and generally enjoy academic lifestyle. But, I haven't slipped fully yet. :)
To complicate things further, we don't know yet which city we're going to be in. We want to be in city B2 but B is currently stuck in city B1. :) I know B2 has perhaps the best options to offer me in India, in terms of both companies and institutes. Then there is city D which is also very attractive science-wise- perhaps ideal fit for my profile but both B and I would never want to live there. No prizes for guessing which city that is. :)
Right now the way it stands is that if I am going to be in city B1, I will perhaps go the academic route, because the industry scene is pretty weak there. In B2, I will try for both and see what they have to offer..I am still information-collecting, CV-circulating, talking...
I now know what all those job-seeking seminars meant when they talked about taking the time to network, have informational interviews, etc. It is great that these people I am talking to are so willing and forthcoming with advice and their own stories. It helps me form a much clearer picture of what I am going for, and also lets guage my own worthiness for once, through less harsh judges than myself.