An inter-ministerial committee has been set up to enhance the fellowship of PhD students and workout the incentives for research scholars within two months, a senior official said Thursday. Apprising about the empowered committee, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Ashutosh Sharma said it will have officials from various ministries, who will examine all fellowship related matters that have a bearing on enhancing the value, quality and experience of doctoral research, including the quantum of fellowship.
"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.
He was 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 & Industrial Research.
Union minister Harsh Vardhan, who could not attend the conference, later in an official statement said that he was happy about the initiative to provide financial and academic incentives to recognise performance of research fellows.
In the statement, the minister for Environment, Forests and Climate change, 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."
The government had on Wednesday announced a hike 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 quality of research can be improved by improving the incentives for it," he said.
"We will consider what and how much incentive is to be given after the full budget comes," he added.
He 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 per cent 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 central 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.
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.