13 Dec : PM launches INSPIRE scholarships to boost R&DSeeking to attract students to science, PM Manmohan Singh launched special scholarships for the youth aimed at identifying talent at an early stage and mentoring them in pursuit of research careers.
The Innovation of Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) aims to reach out to 10 lakh students in the next five years in a bid to build human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the science and technology system and, research and development base.
"Recognising the importance of this initiative, the government has made an allocation of Rs 2100 crore for it in the 11th Plan period," Singh said launching the INSPIRE programme at New Delhi on Saturday.
Expressing concern over talented youth gravitating to disciplines other than science, he said "this trend has long-term implications for our development and for our competitive strength in the global economy.
"Knowledge and innovation as never before are the keys to competitiveness and wealth creation in the fast evolving global economy," Singh said.
The programme works in three stages — providing one million young learners an INSPIRE award of Rs 5000 in the age group of 10-15 years and organising a summer camp for about 50,000 youth with global leaders in science; offering 10,000 scholarships every year for pursuing Bachelor and Masters level education in natural sciences; and assured opportunity for research careers.
"The INSPIRE programme is an important initiative that aims to strengthen the roots of the knowledge infrastructure of the economy," the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister also launched special scheme Promotion of University Research and Scientific Excellence (PURSE) which provides an incentive grant to performing varsities based on scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.
He said that the government was committed to doing all that is necessary to rejuvenate university research which is central to its vitality and to the abilities of its faculties to keep abreast of current developments.
"Creativity should be nurtured. Innovation should be encouraged. Excellence should be rewarded," he said.
Lauding the scientific community, Singh said "the recent data shows that publications in Science Citation Journals of the world from India have been registering about 10 per cent annual growth during the last few years."
A total of 14 universities are among the 35 high productivity science and technology institutions of the country whose contributions figure significantly in such publications during the last 10 years, he noted.
Noting the barely one fourth of R&D expenditure comes from the private sector of which 40 percent is dedicated to drugs and pharmaceuticals sector, Singh asked the private sector to its due role in the area.
The Prime Minister gave away INSPIRE scholarships to the students of Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research at Pune, Kolkata, Mohali, Bhopal and Thiruvananthapuram and the National Institute of Science Education and Research, Bhubaneshwar.
The University of Delhi, University of Hyderabad and Punjab University, ranked as top institutions based on their research performance, received the PURSE awards, which carry a research grant of Rs 10 crore per year.