Committee to boost fellowships of PhD students within two months

Fellowships of PhD students – Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India has said that an inter-ministerial committee has been established in order to boost the fellowship of research scholars (PhD students). As per PTI report, the Committee will freeze a plan as to how to incentivise the PhD students within two months.

According to the official, the panel will have officials from different ministries, who will analyse issues pertaining to the fellowship and come to a decision as to how to bring about incentivising the research scholars to further enhance the value, quality and experience of doctoral research including the quantum of fellowship, noted the report.

“We want to look at the value of PhD in a holistic way. PhD students are the backbone in progress of a country as they strongly contribute to various fields. An empowered committee has been formed to bring all ministries together to periodically visit the quantum of fellowship and incentivise research,” Sharma said, adding that the committee is likely to take a call on the incentivisation of top-class research within a month or two,” Sharma, said this while speaking at a press conference held at the CSIR Science Centre, which was also attended by Renu Swarup, the secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (DST), and Shekhar C Mande, the director general of CSIR and secretary of the Department of Scientific  and Industrial Research.

In the statement, the Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate change, Harsh Vardhan said: “science and technology is a fast-moving area in which a dynamic and holistic vision is required to secure the future of the nation and this will be a performance-based addition to the enhanced fellowship.”

Meanwhile, the Union Government had on January 30 announced an increase in fellowships which will directly benefit 60,000 research fellows. Sharma said that there was a need to reduce the gap between the quantity of research and its quality.

“Sometimes quantity of research gets marred by the quality of research which may not be up to the mark. This gap needs to be reduced and the quality of research can be improved by improving the incentives for it. We will consider what and how much incentive is to be given after the full budget comes,” he added.

Sharma said there are various schemes to promote global exchange of researchers, including ”VAJRA”-Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty Scheme, a dedicated programme exclusively for overseas scientists and academicians with emphasis on NRIs and Persons of Indian Origin (PIO)/ Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) to work as adjunct/visiting faculty for a specific period of time in public funded academic and research institutions.

According to the statement released by the ministry, there is a substantial 30-35% enhancement in the financial rewards for the scientists involved in the research and development (R&D) projects as research associates and the top bracket of research associateship is fixed at Rs. 54,000. All the research fellows are also entitled to house rent allowance as per the federal government norms. Fellowship of the Junior Research Fellows (JRF) in the first two years of the PhD programme has been increased from Rs. 25,000 to Rs. 31,000 per month, added the report.

Similarly, in the remaining tenure of PhD, a senior research fellow will get Rs. 35,000 per month, instead of the current Rs. 28,000.  This is effective from January 1, the statement had said.

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