They will spend time in teaching and doing scientific research in institutions
The Planning Commission is working on a scheme to get top Indian scientists working abroad spend some time doing teaching and research in scientific and technical research institutions in the country.
A top official in the Ministry of Science and Technology told The Hindu that a salient feature of the proposed scheme was that instead of being offered a job through the normal recruitment routes, scientists would be selected by an expert committee consisting of top Indian and international scientists and invited by the government to work here for short periods.
The selected scientists would be paid directly by the government through a special window and not by the institutions, where they would work. The remuneration is likely to be at least Rs. 55 lakh ($1,00,000). In addition, they would be offered fully furnished accommodation plus some relocation expenses and a certain amount as research grant. The scientists would also have the flexibility to choose as to when they want to take up the proposal and also the length of time they want to spend here.
Asked whether the offers were not way above the salaries and perks enjoyed by the scientists working here, the official said “we are not talking about people who are actively looking for a job here. We are talking about those scientists who already are in prestigious positions abroad, but want to do something for their motherland.”
He pointed out that China was able to attract over 1,000 of its scientists working abroad to return to their homeland for varying periods of time for taking up teaching and research assignments. Australia too recently came out with a similar scheme that provided positions at three times the normal remuneration for top class Australian scientists working abroad.
The Plan panel, he said was envisaging the selection of 25 scientists under the scheme to begin with, as a pilot project. The proposal was to increase it in stages to 100 scientists. The scientists would be allowed to and hire up to two research scholars of their choice to work with them.
The Planning Commission was also looking at making the scheme a joint activity with top corporates. The plan was to let them also offer such scholarships and let the scientists be associated with their laboratories.
Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Ahluwalia, who conceptualised the scheme, is holding a meeting with Secretaries of the various science departments here on Tuesday to firm up details.
The scheme is proposed to be called “National Jawaharlal Nehru Science Fellowship/ Professorships’’ programme. It is expected to cost Rs. 15 crore a year, including perks, but the official said, “injecting 25 top scientists into our institutions would have many positives in terms of impact on research and motivation of younger scientists.”
As an adjunct, the Plan panel is looking at the possibility of a similar scheme at Assistant Professor-level for younger less established scientists.