Researcher from Kerela bags Rs 1cr Commonwealth Scholarship

Malayali researcher bags Rs 1cr Commonwealth scholarship

Michael Jacob Mathew

Michael Jacob Mathew can testify that taking risks pays off. The applied electronics engineer landed a job with a multinational through campus placement in the College of Engineering, Trivandrum (CET). What sounded like a good start to a promising career was only an eye-opener for Mathew. He quit within a year to pursue higher studies.

He has no reasons to regret the decision when he prepares to fly to Britain with a Commonwealth scholarship of Rs 1 crore.

Beyond placement

Mathew says he realised the limitations of his knowledge when he started working for Bosch. He wanted to expand his expertise and a top rank in GATE validated his decision to leave the company. He joined the Central Mechanical Engineering Research Institute (CMERI) at Durgapur in Bengal to pursue higher studies in mechatronics, a multidisciplinary field of engineering.

CMERI, a sister concern of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, is one of the finest research centres in India for robotics and mechatronics.

With the robots

Mathew’s passion for robotics was fanned by the ambience of CMERI and the guidance from excellent teachers. He experimented with assigning intelligence and analytical capabilities to robots.

He was about to join the IIT Bombay for pursuing a PhD when he landed the Commonwealth scholarship. Now he could do a PhD from the University of Birmingham for three years. He says he would fly back to India after that.

Hurdles galore

The scholarship did not come easy. The first challenge was an interview arranged by the Union Human Resources Ministry. The interview panel composed of experts from premier institutions such as the IIT. They were charged with shortlisting 60 applicants from India to be considered for the Commonwealth scholarship. Such a cream from all the Commonwealth countries competed in the final round. The screening process took into account each candidate’s studies, research and even personal background.

The Commonwealth scholarship has been granted to 16 Indians for post-graduate studies and five others for Ph.D this year.  Mathew is the only one from Kerala in the entire crop.

He is the son of P.A. Mathew, a retired secretary of the cooperative bank in Kottayam, and Sherly Jacob, an officer with the Rubber Board.

How to apply

There are many scholarships to help ease the burden of studies abroad. The star among them is of course the Commonwealth scholarship, granted by a Commonwealth country to students from a fellow member of the Commonwealth. A Malayali had secured the scholarship even last year – Parvathi Venugopal from Kidangur near Pala.

The Union Human Resources Department is the coordination agency for the scholarship in India. This is the time to apply for the next scholarship, which spans 26 disciplines. Researchers with a post-graduate degree in any of these disciplines can apply for the scholarships. October 8 is the last date for applying. Log on to to apply.

The scholarship amount is fixed in accordance with the cost of living in each country and the tuition fee. On an average, a researcher will get 1034 pounds (more than Rs 1 lakh), including expenses for travel, immigration, health insurance, university fee, stipend and allowances for field work and other things.

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