In a first of its kind public-private partnership—called Prime Minister’s Fellowship Scheme for Doctoral Research—between the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) to promote industry-relevant research in academia and to increase industry’s investment in R&D, the first batch of fellowships was awarded to 27 PhD candidates on the occasion of the centenary session of the Indian Science Congress (ISC). The inaugural session of the 100th ISC was presided over by President of India, Mr Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. Dr Singh is also the President of ISC for 2013. Among others present on this occasion were Minister for Science and Technology and Earth Sciences, Mr S Jaipal Reddy, Chief Minister of West Bengal Ms Mamta Banerjee and the Governor of West Bengal, Mr MK Narayanan.
Announcing the conferment of fellowships, Mr Reddy said, “The Prime Minister’s Fellowship is a unique partnership between CII and SERB and the response of industry to this scheme has been heartening.” Laying emphasis on grooming up a cadre of solution designers and discoverers, Mr Reddy said that it would help in finding solutions to problems, which had practical relevance. The new brand of R&D personnel with high morale and desire should write a new history of research and innovations in industrial research, he added.
The PM’s Fellowship scheme was launched by Mr Reddy in New Delhi in November at AICTE-CII University-Industry Congress and 4th Global Higher Education Summit of CII. At the launch, Dr T Ramasami, Secretary, Department of Science & Technology, had said that higher education in India deserved more focused attention. Comparing the achievements of India and China in higher education, he had said that while China was awarding 20,000 PhDs every year, the tally in India was only 8,900. “The huge disparity should be addressed and corrective measures taken,” he had said. Complimenting CII for launching the fellowship scheme, he had said that he hoped it would be a beginning and a lot of ground will be covered through this in promoting industry - academia connect in higher education.
In New Delhi, the Director-General of CII, Mr Chandrajit Banerjee described the scheme as a much-needed step towards encouraging and promoting industry to invest in R&D. Mr Banerjee said the overwhelming response from corporate sector towards supporting research scholars was proof that industry was not only ready to do its bit towards nation-building but was already proactively doing it in many cases. The need of the hour was to bring to light such cases of industry support and commitment, he said.
Among others, the selected candidates of PM’s Fellowship include six research scholars from IIT-Bombay, two from IIT-Delhi, two from IIIT-Delhi, one each from IIT-Madras and Kharagpur and two from IISER-Pune. Among the partner companies are Tata Chemicals, Thermax Ltd, Proctor and Gamble, Infosys, Piramal Healthcare, Enovex Corp of Canada, Intel Corp (US), Nokia Group (Finland) and Maxim Integrated of the US