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 Department of Science & Technology (DST) is promoting schemes to support research and entrepreneurial skills among youth through various programmes that will help explore uncharted territories of science and technology. It is also supporting youth who are coming forward to develop sustainable solutions for betterment of society at large and through these initiating their entrepreneurship journey.
A snapshot of selected schemes for young scientists and entrepreneurs are presented below.
MANAK (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspiration and Knowledge)
Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) is a national programme implemented by the DST to tap students early in life and nurture the young intelligentsia to take up science and pursue a career in Research. 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 class X. Ten Lakh ideas will be targeted from 5 lakh schools across the country in one year.
Student Startup NIDHI Award
Student Start-up NIDHI award aims to take forward student innovations in IEDC/NewGen IEDC to commercialization stage and accelerate the journey of idea to prototype by providing initial funding assistance. NSTEDB, DST has taken this initiative of helping startups with initial / ignition funding. It aims to support maximum 20 student start-ups in each year financially with Rs 10.00 lakh each.
Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN)
This is an exclusive scheme for women with the mandate to bring gender parity in S&T through gender mainstreaming. The programme is aimed at providing opportunities to women scientists who had a break in their career primarily due to family responsibilities. The key components of KIRAN are:
1. Women Scientist Scheme-A (WOS-A): Aimed to provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists for pursuing research in basic or applied sciences in frontier areas of science and engineering.
2. Women Scientists Scheme-B (WOS-B): Focused on S&T solutions of challenges/issues at the grassroots level for social benefit.
3. Women Scientists Scheme-C (WOS-C): Create opportunity for self employment and/or also sustainable career for the women scientists. The scheme provides one year internship in the domain of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) which includes theory as well as hands-on training in law firms.
Early Career Research Award (ECRA)
SERB-Early Career Research Award scheme aims to provide quick research support to the young researchers who are in their early career for pursuing exciting and innovative research in frontier areas of science and engineering. It is a one-time award and carries a research grant up to Rs. 50 Lakhs (excluding overheads) for a period of three years. The research grant covers equipment, manpower, consumables, manpower, travel and contingency apart from overheads.
National Post Doctoral fellowship (NPDF)
The SERB-National Post Doctoral Fellowship (N-PDF) is aimed to identify motivated young researchers and provide them support for doing research in frontier areas of science and engineering. The fellows will work under a mentor, and it is hoped that this training will provide them a platform to develop as an independent researcher. It is also normally not availed at the same Department / institution where the candidates have earned their PhD/M.S/M.D degree. The fellowship is purely a temporary assignment, and is tenable initially for a period of 2 years. The upper age limit for the fellowship is 35 years at the time of the submission of application.
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 scheme provides an opportunity for research students to gain exposure and access to top class research facilities in academia and labs across the world. This scheme offers opportunities for up to 100 PhD students admitted in Indian institutions for gaining exposure and training in overseas universities or institutions of repute in areas of importance for the country for up to 12 months during their doctoral research.
SERB Distinguished Investigator Award (DIA)
This award has been initiated to recognize and reward Principal Investigators (PIs) of SERB and DST projects who have performed remarkably well. The scheme aims not only to reward the best PIs of completed projects but also to motivate the ongoing PIs to perform exceedingly well. This positive reinforcement strategy would effectively improve the productivity of the research undertaken and the overall efficiency of the research ecosystem. 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.
AWSAR (Augmenting Writing Skills for Articulating Research)
AWSAR has been initiated by the National Council of Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), to encourage, empower and endow popular science writing among young PhD Scholars and Post-Doctoral Fellows during the course of their higher studies and research pursuits. As over 20,000 youth are awarded PhD in S&T every year in India, the scheme aims to tap this tremendous potential to popularize & communicate science and also to inculcate scientific temperament in the masses. One hundred best entries from PhD scholars are awarded in a year. Further, twenty entries are selected from articles submitted exclusively by Post-Doctoral Fellows relating to their line of research for monetary incentives, the highest of which can go up to Rs. 1 lakh.
Scheme for Young Scientists & Technologist (SYST)
The scheme is focused on young scientists & technologists who have adequate background and training in fields of science and technology and show inclination to undertake socially relevant action research projects. This is also to encourage academic institutions, national labs and other S&T institutions (including voluntary organizations) to develop societal projects involving young scientists & technologists.
DST-STI Policy Award
Policy Research Cell has initiated DST-STI Fellowships at post-doctoral level to generate a critical mass of policy researchers. This will provide an opportunity to develop the skills for young scientists and engineers who are interested in engagement with the STI policy domain and/or as STI policy researchers. This programme aims to attract and encourage top-quality researchers to work on the issues pertaining to STI policy and contribute their knowledge and analytical skills in the policy realm.
National Children’s Science Congress
National Children’s Science Congress is targeted to spread the concept of the method of science among the children with their project activities adopting the principle of learning through doing’. It is not only for the school going children but is also open for the children outside the formal boundary of schools, in the age group of 10 to 17 years (where 10 to 14 years is considered as junior group and 14 + to 17 years as senior group).