Overwhelming response from applicants in applied science: Grotsky

The number of Fulbright fellowships offered to applicants from India and scholars from the U.S. coming to the country tripled after the Union government started funding the programme, Adam J. Grotsky the Executive Director of the United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF) said here on Tuesday.

In 2008, the government of India became a full partner of the programme as a part of a new agreement between the two countries and the Fulbright-Nehru fellowships were introduced. The very next year saw a doubling in the size of the programme and later the figures tripled, Mr. Grotsky said on the sidelines of an orientation programme organised for Fulbright scholars who will be travelling to the U.S. in the coming academic year.

In the 2008-09 academic year — the last year that the programme was completely funded by the U.S. authorities — 46 applicants from the U.S. travelled to India and 41 Indian scholars had gone there. In the coming academic session, fellowships were offered to 150 scholars in the U.S. and 131 Indians, he added.

Mr. Grotsky said: “Traditionally, Fulbright was geared towards the humanities, social sciences and the arts. But over the last decade we have seen an overwhelming response from applicants in applied science and the hard sciences.”

Science and Technology, Public Health, Environment Energy and Climate Change were some of the areas identified as priority areas by the USIEF and accordingly there had been an increase in the grants allotted to scholars from these disciplines, he said.

According to the USIEF data, 27 percent of the Fulbright-Nehru Fellows this year were from Science and Technology, 14 percent from Environmental studies and sciences and seven percent from Public Health.

Debal Ray, an employee of the West Bengal government who will be conducting research on environmental issues at Cornell University, also spoke of the need for greater diversity among the applicants and expanding the programme beyond the metropolitan cities that provide the bulk of the applicants.

Mr. Grotsky said the organisation was trying to address the issue and started an outreach programme to create awareness about the scholarships in the tier-II and tier-III cities in India.

He said the USIEF “made a big push in the north-east” as well as other towns. Of the 131 Fulbright-Nehru fellows from India, five were from the north-eastern States.