The National Board for Higher Mathematics (NBHM) was set up in 1983 by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Government of India to promote the development of mathematics in India.
The Board has certainly played an important role in furthering mathematical research in the country. It implements several programmes, some of which are listed below.
Support and training
The NBHM offers attractive scholarships for students pursuing a Masters or a Ph.D. programme in mathematics. It also offers post-doctoral fellowships.
In addition to such financial aid, the NBHM has regular programmes to train students of mathematics. It sponsors instructional schools to train students at an advanced level. Some of these are: the Mathematica Training and Talent Search (MTTS), the Annual Foundational Schools (AFS) and the Advanced Instructional Schools (AIS). These are conducted at several levels at carefully chosen centres spread all over the country.
Interaction and mobility
The NBHM facilitates interaction and mobility of mathematicians by providing travel support to Indian mathematicians to attend conferences abroad and by providing visiting professorships to various Indian universities.
Research and conferences
The NBHM also offers grants for research projects in mathematics and gives financial support to organise conferences, workshops and other activities.
Support for institutions
The NBHM takes an interest in institution building by way of giving substantial yearly grants for selected mathematical institutions. Around six institutions are supported financially at various levels.
While research in mathematics may not require much by way of equipment, a good library and access to archives on the internet are absolutely necessary.
The NBHM has a unique programme to assist libraries of universities and other higher teaching and research institutions.
It provides an annual grant to several such libraries for subscribing to journals and buying books. In turn, these libraries are expected to make available the library facilities to mathematicians in the region. In addition, it has a list of about 250 universities, colleges and research institutions in the country registered under its free book distribution scheme. The NBHM buys important books in mathematics and provide them for free to these institutions. The Board encourages international publishers to bring out inexpensive Indian editions.
In order to attract young students to study mathematics, the NBHM organises Regional and National Olympiad programmes for students at the end of high school; it trains some of them for the International Olympiad and takes care of the expenses of those who participate in the event. The NBHM is also planning to conduct mathematical contests at the collegiate level.
To celebrate the 125th birth anniversary year of Srinivasa Ramanujan, the NBHM has planned several activities including a number of “Panorama Lectures.” It is planning to set up a Ramanujan museum. In addition to setting up the NBHM, the DAE has provided generous support over the years for the promotion of mathematics in India, by giving direct financial support to the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Institute of Mathematical Sciences and the Harish Chandra Research Institute.
(The author is the founder-chairman of the NBHM.)