India is one of the top-ranking countries in the field of basic research. Indian Science has come to be regarded as one of the most powerful instruments of growth and development, especially in the emerging scenario and competitive economy. In the wake of the recent developments and the new demands that are being placed on the S&T system, it is necessary for us to embark on some major science projects which have relevance to national needs and which will also be relevant for tomorrow’s technology. The Department of Science & Technology plays a pivotal role in promotion of science & technology in the country. The Department has wide ranging activities, ranging from promoting high end basic research and development of cutting edge technologies on one hand to service the technological requirements of the common man through development of appropriate skills and technologies on the other.
Generation and nurturing of a human talent pool capable of utilizing and developing first principles in science is both a pre-condition and integral part of such an innovation infrastructure. An India specific model for attracting talent with an aptitude for research and innovation, for a career in Basic & Natural sciences is required. Department of Science & Technology (DST) has developed an innovative programme named Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) to attract talent to the excitement and study of science at an early age, and to help the country build the required critical resource pool for strengthening and expanding the S&T system and R&D base with a long term foresight.
Government of India has approved the INSPIRE Scheme in November 2008 at a total cost of about Rs 1979.25 crores in the 11th Plan Period and Honourable Prime Minister launched the programme on 13th December 2008. The programme is continuing in the 12th Plan period at a budgetary allocation of Rs. 2200 crores.
(i) Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS), (ii) Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) and (iii) Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC). the component wise details can be found here. http://www.inspire-dst.gov.in/INSPIRE_Brochure.pdf
(i) Scheme for Early Attraction of Talent (SEATS) aims to attract talented youth to study science by providing INSPIRE Award of Rs 5000 to one million young learners of the age group 10-15 years, ranging from Class VI to Class X standards, and also by arranging summer camps for about 50,000 science students of Class XI with global leaders in science to experience the joy of innovations on an annual basis through INSPIRE Internship.
(ii) Scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) aims to enhance rates of attachment of talented youth to undertake higher education in science intensive programmes, by providing scholarships and mentorship. The scheme offers 10,000 Scholarship every year at Rs 0.80 lakh per year for the talented youth in the age group 17-22 years, for undertaking Bachelor and Masters level education in natural sciences. The main feature of the scheme is the mentorship support provided to every scholar.
(iii) Assured Opportunity for Research Careers (AORC) aims to attract, attach, retain and nourish talented young scientific Human Resource for strengthening the R&D foundation and base. It has two sub-components. In the first component i.e. INSPIRE Fellowship (age group of 22-27 years), it offers 1000 fellowships every year, for carrying out doctoral degree in both basic and applied sciences including engineering and medicine. In the second component i.e. INSPIRE Faculty Scheme, it offers assured opportunity every year for 1000 post- doctoral researchers in the age group of 27-32 years, through contractual and tenure track positions for 5 years in both basic and applied sciences area.