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Saturday, Nov 16, 2019

HRD plans National Research Foundation

The NRF’s mandate is to foster research, much like the US’ National Science Foundation does, although it will do this by working almost exclusively through universities and premier educational institutions.

india Updated: Jul 05, 2019 09:51 IST
Amandeep Shukla
Amandeep Shukla
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank
HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank (HT photo)
         

The Union Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry is working on a plan to create a National Research Foundation (NRF) and is veering towards structuring it as a commission created by an act of Parliament and headed by the Prime Minister.

The NRF’s mandate is to foster research, much like the US’ National Science Foundation does, although it will do this by working almost exclusively through universities and premier educational institutions.

Some people expect an announcement of the funding and creation of NRF to come in the Union Budget which will be presented on Friday.

According to a senior government official familiar with the matter, a panel of nearly 80 experts including NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, former revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Niti Aayog, principal scientific adviser to the PM, K VijayRaghaThe van, former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, former Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan and top HRD officials led by higher education secretaryRSubrahmanyam, has given a detailed plan on setting up NRF to the ministry.

According to the report submitted by these experts under the ministry’s Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP), NRF may be commission by an Act of Parliament and will aim at achieving excellence in knowledge creation and research and innovation infrastructure.

Its operations should follow a so-called hub-and-spoke model with a network of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) located in premier institutions, the report further says.

NRF will fund research projects through grants. It will establish high-intensity thematic research labs in areas of science such as oceanography, nanotechnology, and Information & Communication Technology.

“NRF will be an apex body formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister and will aim for excellence in knowledge, people and infrastructure. It will focus on promoting R&D activities in branches of science and technology, humanities and social sciences identified through national and state missions,” the report says.

HT has reviewed a copy of the report.

According to the panel, which was formed on the direction of the Prime Minister’s office and whose report was submitted to HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, NRF will establish and support research centres in existing higher education institutions. It will also support and fund postdoctoral students.

“The overarching goal of NRF will be to enable a culture of research to permeate through our universities. In particular, NRF will explicitly aim to remove the current obstacles in creating a global quality research ecosystem in the country by providing a reliable base of merit-based peerreviewed research funding, helping to develop a culture of research in the country through suitable incentives for and recognition of outstanding research, and by undertaking major initiatives to seed and grow research at state universities and other public institutions where research capability is currently limited,” the report says.

The report also calls for an innovation fund for supporting innovative projects at pre-incubation, incubation and start-up levels.

“It is an excellent idea. The New Education Policy draft has also called for setting up a research foundation. However, creating it through an act of parliament and headed by the prime minister as aspects will add to its stature...,” said former UGC member Inder Mohan Kapahy.