VAIBHAV Fellowship scheme

VAIBHAV Fellowship scheme

News: Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced the VAIBHAV (VAIshwik BHArtiya Vaigyanik)  fellowship to 22 scientists of Indian origin to take up collaborative research projects in the fields of electrical  engineering and computer science at IIT-Bombay and IIT-Kanpur.

What is Vaibhav Fellowship scheme?
• The “Vaishvik Bharatiya Vaigyanik (VAIBHAV) Fellowship” is a program implemented by the Department of Science & Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. 
• It aims to foster collaboration between scientists of the Indian Diaspora and Indian Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), Universities, and/or Public Funded Scientific Institutions. 

Key Features:
• Collaboration: The VAIBHAV Fellow identifies an Indian Institution for collaboration and may spend up to two months in a year for a maximum of 3 years.
• Fellowship Grant: The fellowship includes a fellowship grant (INR 4,00,000 per month), international and domestic travel, accommodation, and contingencies.
• Initiate Research Activities: The VAIBHAV fellows are expected to collaborate with their Indian counterparts and help initiate research activities in the host institution in the cutting-edge areas of Science and Technology.
• Start-up Projects: The Vaibhav fellows are expected to begin a project, technology start-up, within three years along with the host institute. 
• Research areas: Proposals are sought in select identified verticals and horizontals of VAIBHAV, including Quantum Technologies, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Computational Sciences, Data Sciences, Photonics, Energy, Electronics and Semiconductor Technologies, Communication Technologies, Aerospace Technologies etc.

Was there any initiative launched before?
• VAJRA Scheme: Earlier, the DST conceived the VAJRA (Visiting Advanced Joint Research) Faculty Scheme with similar objectives. As per officials, currently, both schemes will continue. 
• Short-term fellowships are useful in priming foreign faculty and researchers to the potential for science in India. 

How are both schemes different?
• Vaibhav is exclusively for the Indian diaspora, while VAJRA scheme can include other nationalities too. 
• VAJRA, though generous in the amount offered as fellowships, was restricted to one-year engagements, unlike Vaibhav which pays less but extends to three years. 

Issues:
• The DST, which is in charge of both schemes, says that nearly 70 international faculty have spent time in India as part of VAJRA scheme, though there have been concerns over the effectiveness of the scheme.
• While facilitating exchange between Indian and foreign universities is welcome, there ought to be clarity on what India hopes to gain by specifically focusing on the Indian diaspora.

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