New Delhi : Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology, Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh has proposed a Common Single Application for all Scientific Fellowships, Grants and Scholarships.
Presiding over a high level meeting of all Secretaries of the Science Ministries and Science Departments, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the streamlining of the Fellowships and Research Grants will not only save cost and time, but will provide a level playing field to all the students and help achieve “Ease of Science Education” for students and scholars.
Dr Shekhar Mande, Secretary CSIR, Chairman of the Streamlining Committee, Dr. M. Ravichandran Secretary, Ministry of Earth Sciences, Dr S. Chandrasekhar, Secretary Department of Science & Technology, Dr Rajesh Gokhale Secretary Department of Biotechnology and senior officials took part in the meeting.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that currently there are number of schemes under Ministry of Science & Technology (MoST) and Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES) providing scholarship/fellowship to students, researchers at different levels (School/UG/PG/PhD/Post-doc/RA/re-entry from abroad). He said, for example, CSIR and DBT, both conduct separate examination for Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) and similarly, DST, DBT and CSIR have schemes for Postdoc/ Research Associateship and Re-entry from abroad. However, all these departments have separate advertisements and interview/selection processes and thus students/researchers have to apply at different portals in different formats and face multiple exams or interviews which lead to hardship among students. This situation is not only time consuming for students but also lot of time and resources are deployed in process of selection to disbursement of grants by the funding agencies.
Recognising the hardship faced by students, Dr Jitendra Singh has mooted the idea of creating a single web interface to facilitate for all scholarships and fellowships under MoST and MoES. The aim is to make the schemes student-centric and simplify the processes. He said, once implemented, the students need not to submit multiple applications and different portals as all four departments will converge all scholarship/ fellowship schemes at a single portal.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that steps like simplification of Processes and bringing Uniformity, providing single point of Contact to Students/Researchers, adopting the fast process and timely release of fellowships, eliminating the Duplicity, synergizing the process and schemes and reducing the Transaction Costs will be the main components of Single Window Opportunity for Scholarships and Fellowships. He said, the ministries have also been asked to explore the possibility of merging some of the ongoing schemes and direct transfer of fellowship grants to researchers based on NOC received from the sponsoring institutes.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that the step was taken as a number of grievances are being received regarding delays in sanction and release of fellowships/research grants to Scholars and Students. Moreover, every department has its own system and mechanism of sanctioning and monitoring such fellowship grants. The Minister said in the light of above, a need was felt to streamline the entire process of accessing the information, application, selection, timely release of grants and effective utilisation and monitoring of the same.
Accordingly, Dr Jitendra Singh constituted a Committee for streamlining the Fellowships and Research Grants under the Chairmanship of Dr Shekhar C. Mande, Secretary, DSIR and DG, CSIR and Secretary DST, Secretary DBT, Secretary MoES as Members. Dr. Anjan Ray, Head, HRDG and Dr.Sanjay Mishra, Senior Scientist are other two members.
The Committee has recommended that a dedicated Centralized Project Management Unit (PMU) should be established which will manage all the operations, processing, disbursements related to fellowships and projects funding from a single place. PMU could comprise of professional outsourced staff and nodal/ representatives from each of the Department. In due course, the portal will be supported by 24×7 Call Centre, Grievance Redressal Section. Further, they will guide the Students/Researchers/PIs/Institutions for correct paperwork. The 24×7 Call Centre, correct paperwork & scrutiny papers for fellowship/grants and their automated processing could be taken care of by PMU. It must be noted that the Operational Expenses (both Capital & Recurring) of the PMU/Proposed Centre could be borne equally by DST, SERB, DBT and DSIR/CSIR. The expenses on the fellowships would be borne by concerned departments as done at present.