With a vision to stop India’s best brains from taking up scholarships for frontier research abroad, the Union Cabinet has approved the PM Research Fellowships (PMRF) for students of higher education institutions like the IITs, IISERs and NITs, which will also be the country’s most lavish paid scholarships to date.
And in another incentive for engineering graduates who want to pursue research, BTech graduates from IITs, IISERs, IIITs or NITs shortlisted for the PMRF will be eligible to directly pursue PhD at IITs or IISc, Bengaluru.
“The scholarship will be for research in frontier areas — intelligence, nanotechnology etc…this is the most ambitious scheme…this is the biggest scholarship for research being provided to the brightest of the brightest. At present, the maximum amount any research scholarship gives is Rs 28,000,” Javadekar said.
“The scheme will go a long way in tapping the talent pool of the country for carrying out research indigenously in cutting edge science and technology domains,” Javadekar told reporters at a press conference.
“Research under the scheme will address our national priorities at the one hand and shortage of quality faculty in premier educational institutions of the country on the other. It will help convert brain drain into brain gain,” he said.
The PMRF includes monthly scholarships of Rs 70,000 to Rs 80,000 and annual research grants of Rs 2 lakh for select scholars. The Centre has approved an allocation of Rs 1,650 crore for these fellows to be spent over three years.
Students, who would fulfil the eligibility criteria and get shortlisted, would be offered a fellowship of Rs 70,000 a month during the first two years, Rs 75,000 per month during the third year and Rs 80,000 per month during the fourth and the fifth year, it added. A research grant of Rs two lakh each will also be provided to the fellows for a period of five years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers at international conferences and seminars.
“Only those countries advance which are innovating. We are not an innovating country…Our attempt is to turn the ‘brain drain’ into ‘brain gain’, which we will achieve by providing guidance, research facilities and scholarships — things for which our students go to foreign shores,” said the minister.
Apart from 1,000 annual scholarships under the scheme, the government is also planning to upgrade research facilities at the IITs and IISc. Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar said the scheme, announced in the Budget and approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, will pave the way for BTech graduates or graduates from integrated-MTech or MSc in science and technology streams to be offered “direct admission in PhD programme at the IITs/ IISc”.
He said 3,000 students will be given the scholarship in the first three years, 4,000 in the fourth year, and thereafter at anytime about 4,000-5,000 students will be availing of this scholarship.
The minimum eligibility for aspirants will be a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 8.5. The minister said that the scheme will be rolled out from the 2018-19 academic session.
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