Govt rolls out red carpet for top scientists abroad

Seeking to inspire researchers, government plans to roll out the red carpet to attract top Indian scientists working abroad to spend some time in institutions here.

As per the plans, such “very high quality” scientists would be offered an annual remuneration of USD 1,00,000 (approx Rs 55 lakh) in addition to fully furnished accommodation and relocation expenses for a minimum of one and upto three years in India.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has mooted this proposal in a “conceptual note” circulated to Secretaries of scientific departments of the government. Ahluwalia has called a meeting of Secretaries of science department recently to discuss the proposal to set up new ‘National Jawaharlal Nehru Science Fellowships’, as the scheme is to be called.

The fellowships would be “offered to selected scientists who have achieved a degree of international distinction in areas of scientific research that correspond to our national priorities”, says the note circulated by the Plan panel.

The selected candidates could be approached to ascertain their interest in taking up the fellowship which could be for a minimum of one year and upto three years, it said.

Officials said China had implemented a similar scheme and had succeeded in attracting over 1,000 of their scientists working abroad to return to their homeland for varying periods of time.

Once selected, scientists may be given an option to take up the fellowship at a time of their choosing but within three years of their selection. “An annual remuneration of USD 1,00,000 or even more in some cases, plus fully furnished accommodation plus some relocation expenses could be considered,” the note said.

 The professors thus selected would also have access to research support grant, part of which would go to the institution to cover the cost of research infrastructure.

The Plan Panel proposes to select 25 scientists under the scheme to begin with, as a pilot project. It plans to increase it in stages to 100 scientists. The Planning Commission also hopes to rope in corporates in the scheme.

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