Class 12 board exam toppers to get Rs.1 lakh in scholarship

Priscilla Jebaraj

It they stick to science and technology stream in higher studies

CHENNAI: Last year’s Class 12 board examination toppers could soon receive an interesting letter from the Central government, offering them an annual scholarship of Rs.1 lakh, if they have stuck to the science and technology stream in their higher studies.

The Department of Science and Technology has contacted the State’s School Education Department for the names and addresses of the top one per cent of students who secured the highest aggregate marks in science subjects in the state board examinations.

However, only the CBSE has responded with a list of toppers so far. The list of the State board toppers has not yet been submitted, according to S. Vincent, member-secretary of the Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology, which is responsible for liaising between the State and Central governments.

The scheme is part of the Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research, better known as INSPIRE. The three-part programme is aimed at making science an attractive career option for talented young people and has a total allocation of Rs.2,250 crore for the Eleventh Plan Period.

One part, called Scholarships for Higher Education or SHE, is aimed at the age group of 17-22 and will provide 7,500 school board examination toppers across the country with a scholarship of Rs.1 lakh a year to help them continue their science education at the B.Sc. and M.Sc. levels.

The number of Tamil Nadu students eligible will be determined by the State’s share in the total number of higher secondary students in the country. Another 2,500 students will be identified through their performance in national competitive examinations such as JEE, AIEEE, an Olympiad or admission to IISER and NICER.

“We are collecting performance and contact data from the States… Most of the data is ready,” says V. Rao Aiyagari, head of the Science and Engineering Research Council of the Department of Science and Technology, which is responsible for implementing the programme. He expects the programme to be implemented by the end of the financial year in March. In fact, Rs.85 crore has been allocated to the DST for the INSPIRE in the current Union budget.

Dr.Aiyagari says that while approximately 60 per cent of the Rs.1 lakh scholarship will be given directly to students, the rest could be used for purchase of books, or other necessities.

He says that while SHE has been approved by the Union Cabinet, the other components of the INSPIRE are still in the final stages of approval. One of the other components is the Scheme for Early Attraction of Talents, or SEATS, which will provide a one-time science innovation scholarship of Rs.5,000 each for one million young learners in the age group of 10-15.

Over five years, the top one per cent of performers in the Class 10 examinations will also be invited to a summer camp, where they will receive mentoring from Indian and global science leaders, including Nobel Laureates.

The third component is the Assured Opportunity for Research Careers, or AORC, for 1,000 researchers in the age group of 22-32 for 5 years to help them pursue doctoral research in science, backed by an assured career opportunity scheme for another period of five years on completion of their Ph.Ds.

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