PM Research Fellowship of Rs 1,800 Crore To be Launched | Here is What You Should Know !
India is a country with tens of top class research institutions in the basic sciences and in the medical and engineering sciences. The combined strength of junior researchers from all these institutions will run into the ten thousands.
Now, the Modi Administration’s 2018 budget proposal, announced with great respect to this fact has allocated Rs 1,800 crore under the Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme for BTech students working towards their PhDs in premier institutes. The Centre will provide Rs.75,000 as monthly fellowship to those researchers doing their PhDs in Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) or Indian Institute of Science (IISc).
“The government has … launched a Prime Minister Research Fellows scheme this year… Under this scheme, we will identify 1,000 best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions and provide them facilities to do PhDs in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc)… The students will also be rewarded with a handsome fellowship amount,” Union finance minister Arun Jaitley said while presenting the Union Budget.
The government has also taken steps to “set up a specialised railway university in Vadodara” and “two new full fledged schools of planning and architecture. Additionally, 18 School of Planning and Architecture will be set up in IITs and NITs as autonomous schools,” the central minister said.
Calling the year’s budget “world’s largest healthcare program”, Mr. Jaitley has also announced extensive healthcare schemes for the vulnerable. “We are slowly progressing towards universal health coverage,” he said in his speech.
Regarding the PMRF, the budget initially had pitched the idea of around 1000 students (per year) receiving a fellowship for three years with the stipend of Rs.75, 000 per month paid for five years. The ministry reportedly would be granting scholarship to 3,000 students in total.
In the latest development, the Union Cabinet has approved this proposal of the PMRF with slight changes.
The implementation-ready fellowship scheme will now be awarded to 3,000 students B.Tech graduates of the country, who will be enabled to pursue a PhD in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc). The cabinet approved the scheme at a cost of Rs 1,650 crore for a period of seven years, beginning 2018-19.
“Under this scheme, the best students who have completed or are in the final year of B.Tech or integrated M.Tech or M.Sc in science and technology streams in the IISc/IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIITs will be offered direct admission in the PhD programme in the IITs/IISc,” an official statement said.
The fellowship is applicable to the students of IIT, NIT, IISc and IIIT (students from the other institutes can apply for the fellowship but will have to pursue research in IITs only). The applicants should ideally score high in their programs or courses (above 8 CGPA), have a strong academic background and should be from the above mentioned institutes.
Eligible will further be shortlisted as per the PMRF guidelines. The approved research fund is offering a fellowship of Rs70,000 per month for the first two years, Rs75,000 per month for the third year and Rs80,000 per month in the fourth and fifth years.
The exciting details don’t end there- apart from this, an additional grant of Rs2 lakh each will be provided to each of the “fellows” for a period of 5 years to cover their foreign travel expenses for presenting research papers in international conferences and seminars.
Using this attempt to woo students as a backdrop, the finance minister in his Budget 2018 presentation talked about how the PMRF will help identify bright students pursuing BTech in premiere engineering institutes and they will be provided higher-education opportunities in IITs IISc Bangalore with handsome financial assistance.
The development follows closely on the heels of students at IITs stopping to go abroad for higher education in large numbers as compared to trend of last few decades. They now stay back and around 10% to 15% go abroad and that too preferably for jobs rather than higher education. “So what will happen, we need to find faculty for them and research areas,” said a source from IIT Delhi to NEWS18.
The source added, “The idea was proposed some time back – apart from encouraging the undergraduate students in taking up research, the fellowship will also address the problem of faculty deficit. IITs are finding it difficult to have pool of good brains that will step up to the faculty in the future. Over a period of time, we will be able to build a pool of good caliber researchers and it will make a big difference on faculty recruitment.”