From brain drain to brain gain: Indian Science Minister

The Indian government announced plans to launch a first-of-its-kind programme from next month, wherein foreign and NRI scientists can work in the country's scientific institutions for a period of one to three months. The programme titled 'Visiting Advanced Joint Research' (VAJRA) is aimed at encouraging top scientists to work in India and guide doctorate and post-doctorate students.

Dr Harsh Vardhan (2nd from right) at the event.
Dr Harsh Vardhan (2nd from left) at the event. Photo courtesy: Govt of India

The announcement was made at an event in New Delhi to celebrate the NDA government’s achievements in the science sector over the past three years. Union Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan, who was also present at the event, said thousands of Indian-origin scientists working abroad have come back to India ever since the NDA came into power.

"The scientists are seeing a change in India. The scenario has shifted from brain drain to brain gain," Vardhan said.

"The aim of the programme is to expose the students to global research culture. The scientists selected under this programme will be a cut above the rest in their respective fields. The faculty will be physically available for 1-3 months in the Indian institutions, but will maintain an adjunct faculty status round the year," said Ashutosh Sharma, secretary, Ministry of Science and Technology, on the sidelines of the event.

Scientists under the VAJRA programme would draw a salary of USD15,000 in the first month and USD10,000 each in the remaining months. The number of scientists under the programme has been capped at 1,000.

Meanwhile, Sharma said it was for the first time that the government has initiated such a programme at a mass level to attract foreign scientists.

The government currently runs a programme under 'Ramanujan Fellowship', with a period of five years, to attract scientists of Indian origin back to the country.