Science Ministry announces first recipients of ‘Vaibhav’ fellows

Union Minister Jitendra Singh said the ‘Vaibhav’ fellowship was “open-ended”. File
| Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

The Department of Science and Technology (DST) announced the first batch of ‘Vaibhav’ fellows – a scheme meant to attract Indian-origin scientists based abroad for short-term collaboration – at a function on Tuesday.

Twenty-two scientists, mostly based at North American and European institutes including the California Institute of Technology, the University of Oxford, the University of Michigan, the University of Geneva, the University of Waterloo, Canada, and the University of Oslo, will spend anywhere from a month or two annually, for a maximum of three years, at host Indian institutes. Currently, the institutions include the Indian Institute of Science, the Indian Institutes of Technology, the Indian Institutes of Science, Education and Research, and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, among others.

Apart from these, two ‘distinguished fellowships’ were also offered to senior professors, Arogyaswami Paulraj (Stanford University) and Jitendra Malik (University of California, Berkley).

Those selected would get a stipend (₹4 lakh per month), accommodation, and their host institutions, a research grant, to enable them to host the fellows. The Vaibhav fellows are expected to begin a project, technology start-up, within three years along with the host institute, build long-term research connections with the institute, collaborate with the host faculty and bring in new ideas to the field, in Indian university and research settings.

The Vaibhav fellowship scheme, first set into motion in June 2023, and credited to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to involve the Indian diaspora more closely to further India’s development, bears striking similarities to another scheme, called Visiting Advanced Joint Research Faculty (Vajra) scheme, again of the DST, initiated in 2018. Here too, diaspora Indian scientists were incentivised to spend short periods in Indian institutions. Officials said that both schemes would continue as they had different objectives. “Vajra was open to all foreign scientists, whereas Vaibhav is exclusively for the Indian diaspora,” said Professor Ajay Kumar Sood, Principal Scientific Advisor.

While the Vajra scheme did see participation and visits by foreign faculty, the Vaibhav scheme – other than the emphasis on Indian diaspora – expected clear, translational outcomes in areas of science of research that the government had earlier identified as critical to development.

Science Minister Jitendra Singh said at the function that the scheme was “open-ended” and was meant to facilitate long-term, meaningful collaboration, and potentially attract diaspora scientists to work in India. “There’s no explicit plan to coax NRI scientists back to India. However India has changed and is advancing rapidly and if these scientists can see opportunities for themselves, that would be welcome,” he added.

Source link

Leave a comment