Aid to promote education in basic sciences; Scholarship amount to be increased

Individuals and society have a critical role in the development of science, which is vital for progress,Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has said.

Speaking after giving away the first Pratibha science scholarships instituted by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) to 82 students, he said, “Even though India is on the path of progress, we are still lagging far behind developed countries such as the U.S. and Japan when it comes to technological excellence and standard of living. All excellence stems from advancements in basic sciences.”

Mr. Chandy said the government would increase the scholarship amount under the Pratibha scheme from next year. He exhorted students to make good use of all available opportunities for the advancement of studies and dedicate their skills for societal development. He also expressed happiness over the fact that 91 per cent Pratibha scholarship awardees were girls. “This is an achievement we can be proud of.”

The students were awarded a certificate and an amount of Rs.12,000 for a year.

The KSCSTE Pratibha Scholarship aims at identifying and nurturing a core group of students to pursue higher studies in basic and natural sciences (B.Sc. degree /integrated M.Sc. degree course) at universities or institutions in India. Students of Indian origin, with not less than 90 per cent marks or equivalent grade in Higher Secondary Examination, were deemed eligible to apply for the award of the scholarship.

Research opportunities

In his presidential address, KSCSTE Executive Vice-President V.N. Rajasekharan Pillai said the scholarship was not just a means to provide financial support to students but also make them understand the opportunities available in the field of science and science research at the national and international levels.

“Over the next five years, the country will require a 68 per cent increase in the number of full-time scientists engaged in science research and our endeavour is to create adequate opportunities in Kerala colleges,” Prof. Pillai added. Women achievers in science and women scientists who received the Best Paper and Young Scientist Awards of KSCSTE in 2012-2013 shared their experiences with young aspirants. Technical paper presentations on wide-ranging science research areas followed.

J. Letha, Director, Technical Education; P.G. Latha, Director, Jawaharlal Nehru Tropical Botanical Garden Research Institute; K.R. Lekha, Head, Women Scientists Division, KSCSTE; and B.G. Sreedevi, Director, National Transportation Planning and Research Centre, spoke.