India woos world-renowned scientists to boost research

Bereft of front line research, India now woos Nobel laureates and Fellows of Royal Society with a lucrative financial offer to mentor Indian students and spur fundamental research in Indian institutions hoping to rise up in global scientific achievement scale. Five of the world’s top scholars—all Fellows of the Royal Society—have accepted India’s offer and the search is on for 20 more, including Nobel laureates active in research.“The government has instituted 25 Jawaharlal Nehru Fellowships, under which eminent scientists from aboard are invited to work in India for 12 months spread over a three-year period,” Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh said while inaugurating the 101st session of the Indian Science Congress here. The fellowship comprises $100,000 for scientists in addition to a Rs 55-lakh grant. Moreover, the host institute will receive Rs 10 lakh to support the facility and infrastructure needed for the programme. Top line Indian research is currently restricted to less than 50 institutes. Besides Nobel laureates and FRS, members of the French Academy of Sciences and US Academy of Sciences are eligible for the fellowship.  The selection is made on the basis of nomination followed by scrutiny of a top-level panel comprising Indian FRS like CNR Rao and Roddam Narsimha. There is no bar on age and nationality. “We received 162 nominations, out of which only five have been selected. The benchmark has been kept high,” Mr T Ramsami, secretary to the department of science and technology, told Deccan Herald. They are Mr M Vidyasagar from the University of Texas, Mr Srinivas Kulkarni from California Institute of Technology or Caltech, Trevor Platt at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Mr Srinivas Varadhan from New York University and Mr Azim Surani from the University of Cambridge.  At the first science congress held in the conflict-ridden state, Singh announced projects worth Rs 11,000 crore, including a Rs 4500-crore national mission on high performance computing and a Rs 3000-crore National Geographical Information System that seeks to improve land use planning with satellite-based scientific information.  The supercomputing mission will be implemented by the Indian Institute of Sciences in Bangalore. Dr Singh also announced the shifting of one of the major physics experimental facilities from the United States to India. “In the gravitational wave experiment, India intends to host the third detector,” he said, one and a half years after the US approved the relocation, reported first by Deccan Herald.

Source: Deccan Herald.

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