Sunday, November 27, 2011

Indian Scientists and Technologists Working Abroad:Opportunities in Networking,Collaboration, and Career

There are excellent oppertunities for Indian scientists working abroad to collaborate, visit Indian S&T institutions, and share their expertise and knowledge, and contribute to country's progress.

In a reply to the Indian Parliament (Lok Sabha) the India's State Minister in the Ministry of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Ashwani Kumar, informed about several initiatives for attracting Indian scientists working abroad for utilizing their expertise in various field of research in the country.

The initiatives have been taken up by  different S&T departments:

Department of Science and Technology (DST) - “Collaborative Projects with Scientist and Technologists of Indian Origin Abroad” for strengthening institutional and human capacity building, enhancing technology entrepreneurship and augmenting stronger alma-mater relationship.

There is a provision to sponsor upto 20 joint projects annually based on a call for proposal.  In this program, joint project based visit of scientists of Indian origin into India are co-funded by DST and Indian partnering host institution covering return air travel, honorarium, accommodation costs.

Typically around 125 applications are received  per call for proposals. So far, 37 joint projects involving STIOs abroad have been sponsored with DST.

Department of Science and TechnoDepartment logy (DST)-  Ramanujan Fellowship Program for Indian brilliant scientists and engineers from all over the world, especially those who wish to return to India, to take up scientific  research positions at any of the scientific institutions and universities in India.

 All areas of science are covered under this Fellowship and the Fellowship is given for 5 years duration with fellowship of Rs. 75,000 consolidated per month and a contingent grant of Rs.5 lakhs per year. Since inception 266 applications have been received and 102 Indian origin scientists working abroad have been offered this “Fellowship”.

Department of Science and Technology (DST)-  Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE)  Faculty Scheme “Assured Opportunity for Research Career (AORC)” offers a contractual research positions  to Indian citizens and people of Indian origin including NRI/PIO status with Ph D (in science, engineering, pharmacy, medicine, and agriculture related subjects) from any recognized university in the world.

This scheme offers young achievers an opportunity for taking up an independent research in the near term and emerge as a future leader in the long term. The scheme requires applicants to be in the upper limit of age 32 years and they can choose any Indian recognised institution/academia of their choice for contractual research position.

 This Scheme provides a provision of maximum 1000 INSPIRE Faculty positions per year. The INSPIRE Faculty position is for a maximum period of 5 (five) years.  Each selected INSPIRE Faculty shall be eligible to receive a consolidated amount equivalent to the scale of the Assistant Professor of an IIT as Fellowship amount.

 In addition, a Research Grant of Rs 7 lakh per year for 5 years shall also be provided to each successful candidate. Of the 455 applications received in the first announcement under this scheme, 34 are from people of Indian origin including NRI/PIO status with PhD.

Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) –Senior Research Associate (SRA) Scheme aims at attracting Indian scientists working abroad to work in India. The candidates selected under this scheme are appointed in the scale of Scientist B (PB-III Grade Pay Rs.5400 for natural sciences degree holders & Grade Pay Rs. 6600 for medical and engineering science degree holders). Since 2001, 282 SRA appointments have been made.

Department of Biotechnology (DBT) - “Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowship” for Indian Nationals who are working overseas in various  fields of biotechnology and life sciences and are interested in taking up scientific research positions in India. Ramalingaswami Re-entry fellows would be able to work in any of the scientific institutions/ universities in the country and would also be eligible for regular research grant through extramural and other research schemes of various S&T agencies of the Government of India.

 This program provides for upto 50 fellowships annually, for a period of five years. Fellowship awardees is given Rs. 75,000/ pm, House Rent Allowance of Rs. 7,500/- p.m. as well as  a research /contingency grant of Rs.500,000 per annum Since inception of this initiative, so far 400 applications have resulted in selection of 97 Indian scientists working abroad have been selected for “Ramalingaswami Re-entry Fellowships” and 70 of them have already joined in prestigious Indian institutions.

Department of Biotechnology (DBT) - Welcome Trust Fellowship Program is a three tier fellowship program (Senior Fellowship, Intermediate Fellowship, Early Career Fellowship) attracting outstanding Indian scientists, physicians researchers and bio-engineers of Indian origin working abroad, to return to India and take up scientific research positions in India, nurture best Indian scientists to perform at international level and to increase the number of locations in India where world-class science is undertaken.

The total award for a Senior Fellowship typically amounts to INR 4.5 Crores; for an Intermediate Fellowship amounts to INR 3.5 Crores; and for Early Career Fellowship amounts to INR 1.5 Crores.  Upto 70 fellowships are available. Since inception, 780 applications have been received and 52 Indian origin scientists working abroad have been selected for this DBT-Welcome Trust Fellowship.

Department of Biotechnology (DBT)- Energy Biosciences Overseas Fellowship.This Fellowship aims to bring back scientists of Indian origin working outside India to pursue R&D in an Indian scientific institute /university in fields of energy related biological sciences and bio-energy.

Normal duration of fellowship is for 5 years. Fellowship provides for Rs.75, 000 per month consolidated and contingent grant of Rs.5 lakhs /year, international and domestic travel, hiring of manpower. Further Indian host institution can consider giving additional benefits as applicable to regular faculty. Since inception, 11 Indian origin scientists working abroad have applied and 3 have been selected for (DBT) - Energy Biosciences Overseas Fellowship.

The above programmes offer important career buiding initiatives for Indian scientists to return and work in India.