Developing Science and Technology in India

Posted on April 4, 2010 in Sci- Tech

Parul Sabherwal:

Today’s Indian youth produces scores of engineers and medics but not many scientists. Their career choices clearly show them shying away from basic sciences or any scientific research. It might not be that unreasonable for such choices being made because scientific research in our country does not give immediate returns, monetarily or in terms of recognition. But the government recognizes this and is trying to change this trend to involve more people in main stream research, following are some of the initiatives by the Department of Science &; Technology:

1. Ramanujan Fellowships:

This fellowship is basically for brilliant researchers and engineers from India as well as abroad who want to take up research work in our country. The main aim behind making this fellowship international is to bring back the researchers who have settled abroad. This fellowship is very much scientist centric and will benefit, though only a few, but a quality of scientists. These fellows can work in any of the government institutions or universities and would be eligible for receiving a regular grant through the extramural schemes of the department of science and technology. The amount of fellowship will be Rs. 75000 per month and along with this during the five years of this process the fellows would also receive a contingency of Rs. 5 lakh per annum for conferences etc.

2.Fast Track Scheme for Young Scientists (FAST):

This program was initiated in the year 2000 and mainly aims at providing quick support to the young scientists to pursue their new and bright ideas in the line of already existing ideas in the field of science and engineering. This also aims at encouraging the S&T institutions, agencies etc. to start with some youth oriented programs and involve these young scientists as far as possible. Under this scheme, the maximum duration of the project is 3 years with total cost limited to Rs.17.00 lakh (excluding Overheads). The Young Scientist not drawing any fellowship/salary are eligible for a fellowship of Rs. 20,000 per month apart from grants under travel, contingency, consumables and minor equipments. The institute that hosts the project on approval gets a grant of 20% of project cost as overheads. So in way it is beneficial for both the young scientist as well as the institutions.

3. DST’s Scholarship scheme for Women Scientists and Technologists:

Women who constitute a large part of the workforce are to a very large extent affected in this professional field. The main area of concern that needs to be look after is the break due to motherhood or other family responsibilities that the women have to take up. The option of revival of a successful career for these women was till now very difficult but after the launch of this program things have become a little better. This program provides support to women scientists between the age of 30 to 50 years who desire to return to mainstream science and work as branch level researchers. Through this endeavor of the Department, an effort would be made to give women a strong hold into the profession, help them re-enter into the mainstream and provide a launch pad for further achievements into the field of science and technology, both from the point of view of pure science and its application to societal development.

Under this scheme, women scientists are being encouraged to pursue research in frontier areas of science and engineering, on problems of societal relevance and to take up S&T-based internship followed by self-employment.

4. Sophisticated Analytical Instrument Facilities (SAIF):

The Department of Science and Technology is providing sophisticated analytical instruments to the researchers and scientists so that the unavailability of proper instruments does not come up as a hurdle in the path of R&D. it is very important for the Indian scientists to keep up in pace with the development happening globally and this is an important facility in this regard. These instruments are as of today present at many of the IITs, IISC, Nagpur university, Punjab University etc. about 8000 scientists are today using this facility and they are regularly trained and updated about how to use the instruments and also about how to repair and maintain the high end facility so that no problem comes up in their way of using the equipment.

5.Better Opportunities to Young Scientists in Chosen Areas of Science and Technology (BOYSCAST):

This scheme provides the young scientists with an opportunity to interact and work with the international level researchers and international institutes. The duration of this fellowship is around 3 to 12 months. Annually, around 40 young scientists below the age of 30 years are awarded this fellowship in various areas like: plant microbe interaction, plant genetic resources, super molecular chemistry, manufacturing engineering etc. the selected scientists are encouraged to attend conferences and other events in the host country. By providing this world class facility the government expects these scientists to generate and spread their expertise at the S&T laboratories and institutions across the country.

The writer is the Assistance Editor of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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Subbiah Arunachalam

Thanks for the information on the many schemes of DST for young scientists. In a future posting you may write about open access to science and scholarship. If Indian researchers, both young and not so young, adopt open access to their research results, they will gain greater visibility and science will advance much more rapidly. For whatever reason, most Indian research institutions and Indian science administrators have not yet adopted open access. None of the Indian funding agencies have mandated open access. All the seven research councils in the UK, the Wellcome Trust, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the national Institutes of Health have all mandated open access to research publications resulting from their funding. The world will be celebrating the International Open Access Week in October. All young scientists in India should join the celebration and pledge to make their research publications freely available on the Internet.

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