Prime Minister Research Fellow
Research and Technology in India

3,000 students from IIT, NIT, IIITs etc to be inducted for PM Research Fellows

3,000 super-smart students from IIT, NIT, IIIT, IISc and IISER to be inducted into government-sponsored research program under Prime Minister Research Fellows.

The economic survey 2017-18 has shed some light on India’s under-investment in science and technology. Although Indian scientists and technologists are considered amongst the best in the world, India is still far from its peer nations. Organisations like ISRO, DRDO, HAL, Infosys, Wipro etc are well-known in the prowess in science and technology. But, India at large lacks innovation at the student or personal level. This is all about to change at least for the students of IIT, NIT, IIIT, IISc Bangalore and IISERs in India.

In a move to excel in the patent filing, research publications, and social innovation, the Ministry of Human Resource and Development has allocated Rs 1650 crores for Prime Minister Research Fellow scheme in Budget 2018. In Phase 1, starting from 1st April 2018, 1000 super-smart students from above-mentioned institutes will be selected to conduct research of their choice. Despite being a high IQ nation, patent filing and research publication outcomes from Indian Universities is low when compared with China and US.

In 2013, India ranked 6th in the world in scientific publications. Its ranking has been increasing as well. The growth of annual publications between 2009 to 2014 was almost 14 percent. This increased India’s share in global publications from 3.1 % in 2009 to 4.4 % in 2014 as per the Scopus Database. If journal publications reflect a country’s prowess in science, patents reflect its standing in technology. According to the WIPO, India has the world’s 7th largest Patent Filing Office. In 2015, India registered 45,658 patents in comparison to China (1,101,864), USA (589,410) Japan (318,721) Republic of Korea (213,694) and Germany (91,726). However, India produces fewer patents per capita. The Prime Minister Research Fellow scheme aims to turnaround India’s patents into practicality, thus halting the brain-drain.

Prime Minister’s Research Fellow

Under the PMRF scheme, a maximum of 3,000 meritious students from the IITs, NITs, IIITs, IISc Bangalore and IISER shall be selected in 3 batches starting from 2018-19 through a rigorous process and provided direct admission into Ph.D programs in the IITs and IISc Bangalore to pursue research into frontiers of science and technology. PMRF will be one of world’s largest government-sponsored research scheme with the monthly stipend/fellowships as follows.

Year 1 – Rs 70,000 per month

Year 2 – Rs 70,000 per month

Year 3 – Rs 75,000 per month

Year 4 – Rs 80,000 per month

Year 5 – Rs 80,000 per month

In addition to the fellowship, each fellow selected under PMRF will be eligible for the research grant of Rs 2,00,000 each year for five years towards foreign travel for presenting the research papers in international forums. The fellows selected under the scheme will be recognised as ‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellow’. The Director of IIT Hyderabad has been assigned to implement this scheme with immediate effect.

Eligibility of PMRF

The candidates for the PMRF should have completed, or in the final year of B.Tech or integrated M.Tech or M.Sc in Science and Technology stream from IIT, NIT, IIIT, IISc Bangalore or IISER. They should have secured at least 8 CGPA and should have completed the required academic qualification in last five years.

Contours of SOP/Project Abstract by eligible aspirants

The project should clearly articulate the area of study and should display keen interests and insights on the subject chosen. The project should also point out the problems of the study which would be used for accessing the applicant’s analytical and research skills. The topic chosen should be in frontiers of science and technology, preferably focusing on national priorities. To widen the scope of scientific research, there will be a cap on each discipline of Ph.D.

Appointments of Nodal Institutes

For each subject area, one IIT or IISc would act as a Nodal institute. The charge of Nodal Institute will rotate once in every two years. The National Coordination Committee will decide on the selection of NI for the first 2 years. The selection of PMRF will be a two-stage process with the screening of reviewer and final selection by Selection Committee to ensure competition, standardisation, transparency, and selection of the best of the best talents.

Method of evaluation of project proposals

a) A central portal for the upload of all the projects of the students which automatically sends these to nodal institutes would be developed.

b) The candidates should apply on this folder along with SOP/ Project Abstract within the time limit inscribed.

c) Nodal Institute level – NI should constitute Reviewers consisting of subject matter experts to go through all the projects/candidates credentials and shortlist candidates for interview.

d) The Selection Committee, constituted by IIT and IISc would interview the candidate and select after rigourous screening.

Deliverables by Prime Minister’s Research Fellow

a) At the time of joining, each fellow will be given deliverables to be achieved each year. This will be decided by department which the fellow is joining.

b) The deliverables are designed in accordance to the subject selected by the fellow.

c) There shall be an annual review of the performance of these fellows by the host institutions and the next year fellowship will be renewed only if the deliverables are achieved.

d) Each fellow is expected to teach once a week in the neighborhood ITI/Polytechnic and Engineering colleges, as per modalities approved by the government.

e) If the deliverables are not achieved, they could not be brought back to the institutional fellowship or be discontinued.

Research in science and technology is key to #MakeInIndia

As per existing IPR policy, the patents will be owned by institute where the fellow had researched. Each year, the national convention will be organised by the Government of India where all 3,000 PMRF fellows will portray their research to industries and international guests and investors. From practice to practicality, innovations in science and technology will directly reflect in India’s patents story and #MakeInIndia.

– Chaitanya Kulkarni

Source – MHRD website.

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