Science outreach programmes soon in higher education institutes, says Jayant B Udgaonkar, director, IISER
Says that we need to make sure that bright students of the country are not dissuaded from conducting research in India because of money.Updated: Oct 05, 2018 15:07 IST
Jayant B Udgaonkar, director of Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune wants to spread the science outreach programmes from schools to higher education institutions. A prominent biochemist and molecular biologist, Udgaonkar shared his perspectives on the current state of scientific research and higher education in the country.
What are your thoughts on the recent protests by research scholars of IISER, NCL and several other research institutes for a hike in fellowship amount?
The fellowship granting bodies need to be more efficient. We need to make sure that bright students of the country are not dissuaded from conducting research in India because of money. That way we might loose out on potentially great research. While PhD is not like a job but an apprenticeship , at the end of the day, it also needs to have competitive salaries so that we don’t lose out of good people. On an average, it takes 5 to 6 years for a student to complete his or her PhD and the stipend is important during the period. The fellowship granting body should be efficient in addressing the needs and aspirations of the researchers.
Please elaborate on recent initiatives at IISER, Pune.
This year, IISERs along with Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore will be hosting the Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme and we are looking forward to that. Through the scheme, the government is actually providing good aid to students with fellowships in the range between ₹70,000 and ₹80,000 per month, for 5 years. In addition to that, we are also planning more outreach programmes. There is a lot of talent in the smaller towns of the country and we need to be more proactive to attract them as well. So from our outreach programmes in schools, we are working towards moving to higher education institutes too.
Your thoughts on the miss at the ‘Institution of Eminence’ status.
We think that size of the institution could have been a possible reason for us not making it to the list. Compared to the institutions that received the ‘Institution of Eminence’ status, our expanse both in terms of infrastructure and student base is much lesser. The institution is comparatively much younger. I feel that we, as an institution, have to broaden our horizon with respect to subject matter. Also, over the years, the number of patents produced by IISER has been less compared to a technical institute but we are increasingly picking up. And, awareness about Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) as a prominent research institute has also increased to a great extent.