If the mind is intensely eager, everything can be accomplished—mountains can be crumbled into atoms: Swami Vivekananda
These were the motivating words of Swami Vivekananda, whose birthday on January 12 we celebrate as National Youth Day, for a determined young population who can take the country forward.
Keeping this in mind, the Government of India is actively promoting various schemes and programmes to nurture the spirit of scientific innovation and inculcate entrepreneurial skills among youth.
These will help explore uncharted territories of science and technology. Nurturing curosity and innovation starts from childhood. The Science Ministries have launched several fellowships for youth at different stages of education ranging from schools students to post doc researchers. They are also supporting youth who are coming forward to develop sustainable solutions for betterment of society at large and through these initiating their entrepreneurship journey.
Various schemes under DST, DBT, BIRAC, CSIR, MHRD for promoting Science are described below:
Department of Science & Technology (DST)
Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)
It is a programme of DST, India for communicating to the youth of the country the excitements of studying science at an early age. The USP of the programme is that it relies on existing educational achievements for identification of talent. INSPIRE is awarded under three categories as:
(i)Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS) comprising award and internship. INSPIRE award is for promoting science in school children of age group 10-15 years with an amount of Rs. 5000/- per child. INSPIRE internship is for the top 1% performance in 10 th class under the science stream of all school boards.(ii)Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) is for pursuing higher studies as a Bachelors and Masters level in natural sciences by awarding 10,000 scholarships @ Rs-80,000/- year and (iii)Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC). It also comprises fellowship for 1 st rank holders of M.Sc/M.Tech naturals sciences for pursuing doctoral progamme while the faculty scheme awards are for post-doctoral researchers.
MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge)
In the context of Start-up India initiative of the Government, INSPIRE Awards-MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge) scheme has been revamped to foster culture of innovation among school children of class VI to X. From nearly 5 lakh schools across the country, 10 lakh ideas are targeted. Of these, 1 lakh top ideas are shortlisted for an INSPIRE Award. They receive support for preparation of a project and participation in Exhibition & Competition and after short listing from among them at various stages like school, district, state and so on, 60 ideas are selected for National Awards.
Startup NIDHI Award (National Initiative On Developing And Harnessing Innovations)
Student Startup scheme NIDHI aims to take forward student innovations in IEDC/NewGen Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre (IEDC) to commercialization stage and accelerate the journey of idea to prototype by providing initial funding assistance. IEDC is the New Generation Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Centre established at educational institutions for promoting knowledge based and technology-driven start-ups by harnessing young minds and their innovation under a mentor and financial support in an academic environment.
Children Science Congress
Children’s Science Congress is targeted to spread the concept of learning through doing It is an open scheme for all school age children irrespective of whether they are attending school or not. They can attend it under junior and senior age groups.
Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN)
These are schemes exclusive for women who had a break in their career primarily due to family responsibilities and to impart gender equality in S&T. The three schemes are categorized as research in basic/applied sciences; S&T solutions for social benefit and self employability by imparting training in Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).
Early Career Research Award (ECRA)
Science and Engineering Research Board, SERB-Early Career Research Award is a support to the young researchers who are in their early career for pursuing research in frontier areas of science and engineering. It is a one-time award and carries a research grant up to Rs. 50 Lakh for a period of three years.
National Post Doctoral fellowship (NPDF)
The SERB-National Post Doctoral Fellowship (N-PDF) is aimed to identify and support motivated young researchers in frontier areas of science and engineering. The fellows will work under a mentor to develop as an independent researcher.
Overseas Visiting Doctoral Fellowship
The scheme has been instituted for enhancing the international mobility of Indian research students which has the potential to create a talented pool of globally trained manpower. The fellowship provides an opportunity of 12 months to gain exposure to top class research facilities across the world.
SERB Distinguished Investigator Award (DIA)
It is a rewarding scheme recognizing Principal Investigators (PIs) of SERB/DST projects who have performed remarkably well. This positive reinforcement strategy would help improve the research productivity and efficiency. DIA is a one-time career award devised to specifically cater to the younger scientists who have not received any other prestigious awards or fellowships.
Scheme for Young Scientists & Technologist (SYST)
The scheme is focused on young scientists & technologists to undertake socially relevant action research projects. It is an encouraging scheme for academic institutions, national labs and other S&T institutions (including voluntary organizations) across India.
DST-STI Policy Award
DST Policy Research Cell has initiated DST-STI Fellowships at post-doctoral level to generate a critical mass of young scientists and researchers to work on the issues pertaining to STI policy domain.
AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research)
National Council of Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), DST has initiated these schemes to popularize science writing through newspapers, social media, etc. by young PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows during the course of study or research. AWSAR carries monetary incentive of Rs.10,000/- each for 100 and 20 best entries from PhD scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows respectively along with Certificate of Appreciation and published story.
Department of Biotechnology (DBT)
Star College Scheme
It is a scheme to support colleges and university departments offering undergraduate education to improve science teaching and improve inclination towards science. The programme aims to improve the skills of teachers, improved curriculum and emphasis on practical training to students by providing access to specialized infrastructure and consumables. Star college scheme has been divided in two categories viz. strengthening of support for undergraduate education and awarding Star college status.
Biotech Industrial Training Programme (BITP)
Biotech Consortium India Limited (BCIL) under DBT has been implementing a scheme for practical industrial training for M.Sc./M.Tech./B.E./B.Tech/MBA, Biotechnology students. The objective of this programme is to provide industry-specific training to Biotech students for skill development and enhancing their job opportunities in biotech industry. The training period is for six months during which a trainee is paid stipend of Rs.10,000/- per month and trainer company is paid a bench fee to cover the expenses for providing training.
Department of Biotechnology, India and Welcome Trust, UK have jointly been nurturing scientific talent and promoting innovations in the area of biomedical research to tackle health challenges for over a decade. Researchers ranging from early career to post doctoral level receive fellowship for promoting high quality basic biomedical research under this scheme. The India Alliance has separately also established the Clinical and Public Health (CPH) Fellowships Programme exclusively for clinicians and public health researchers.
Biotechnology Career Advancement and Re-orientation Programme (Bio-CARe) for Women Scientists
Bio-CARe was initiated to enhance the participation of Women Scientists in Biotechnology Research and bring them back as professionals after career break due to family responsibilities,. The programme is mainly for Career Development of employed/ unemployed women Scientists upto 55 years of age for whom it is the first extramural research grant. The scheme is open for all areas of Life Science / biology (including agriculture, veterinary science and medicine).
The Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award (IYBA)
It is a career-oriented prize to identify and nurture outstanding young scientists with innovative ideas and desire of pursuing research in biotechnology below 35 years of age, including scientists without regular employment.
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) schemes for encouraging young innovators
Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a not-for-profit organisation set up by Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Government of India has changed the Indian bio-economy by supporting start-ups and leading the commercialization to the next higher level. Till date, 313 startups and 35 Bio Incubators have been supported by BIRAC while 122 products and technologies have been developed/commercialized and much more. It is an Interface Agency to strengthen and empower the emerging Biotech enterprise to undertake strategic research and innovation, addressing nationally relevant product development needs. Bioincubators Nurturing Entrepreneurship for Scaling Technologies (BionEST) program helps in establishing bio-incubators either as a standalone entity or as a part of the academia by providing support of various kinds as land, high end instrumentations to mentorship. Biotechnology Ignition Grant Scheme (BIG) is the largest early stage biotech funding programme in India. The purpose is to foster generation of ideas with commercialisation potential to upscale to proof of concept. It act as catalyst by providing fuel and support in monetary terms. Social Innovation Immersion Program (SIIP) is aimed at creating a pool of biotech “Social Innovators” who can identify needs & gaps within communities and then can help bridge the gaps either through an innovative product development or services.
Ministry Of Human Resource Develpoment (MHRD), India
Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme.
To prevent brain drain of the country, and compete with the developed countries, MHRD, India has launched this scheme. This scheme attracts the talent pool of the country to doctoral (Ph.D) programs of Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) for carrying out research in cutting edge science and technology domains, with focus on national priorities. The amount of fellowship offered under the scheme is the highest till date in any Indian institution/University.
Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
Nehru Science Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Scheme
The Nehru Science postdoctoral research fellowship scheme has been instituted to identify promising young researchers with innovative ideas and provide them with training and research opportunities in niche areas of basic science, engineering, medicine and agriculture. The scheme aims at facilitating their transition from the stage where the researcher is mentored to the stage where she/he can take up independent research career.