The Lindau Nobel Laureate meetings this year was attended by several young Indian researchers and scientists, as well as Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel winner from India. The participation of Indian scientists was facilitated by Mr. R.K. Sharma, Scientist-E (Director), International Cooperation Division, Department of Science & Technology (DST), India. Mr. Sharma is responsible for the formulation and implementation of bilateral schemes and programmers for collaborative research between India and partner countries. The countries he currently handles are Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Austria, China, Vietnam, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Anuradha Sharma who attended the conference, conducted this interview with him:
What is the Department of Science and Technology’s association with Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings? How long has it been? What has been the experience so far?
DST (Govt of India) is associated with Lindau Nobel Laureates Meetings from 2001. So far, DST has deputed and supported about 345 students in 15 batches. The Lindau Meetings have been evolving every year with its structure and programmes, which makes these Meetings more exciting and purposeful. The informal atmosphere of these Meetings has been the hallmark and the most-liked aspect.
How does attending the Lindau Meetings encourage the young scientists of our country?
The students who are basically in very early stage of their research careers are motivated to get involved and interact not only with Nobel Laureates but with their peers and fellow students from other countries. In addition to discussing about their own research plans and work, they also exchange information about the latest trends in research. It’s an opportunity for them to get connected with groups in their research field.
What was the selection process? How many applicants were selected and on what basis?
Based on the eligibility criteria prescribed by the Lindau Council, we (DST) invite applications from Indian students through advertisements in leading daily newspapers in all states of India (one in English language and one in local regional language newspaper). The applicants need to submit the applications in the prescribed format, through heads of their respective university/Institute along with a one-page write-up on their motivation and research work and a one-two page letter of recommendation from their guides/expert in their fields. The applications received in DST are processed first on formal ground (i.e., eligibility checks etc.) and then the applications are scrutinised by an expert panel constituted by DST. This expert panel also includes two experts from Germany nominated by Lindau Council. The DST panel finally shortlists about 30 students based on their academic performance and research work. The nominations of these 30 students are forwarded to Lindau Council through their online application system. The final selection is done by the Lindau Council out of the 30 shortlisted and nominated by DST.
What other kind of short- and long-term opportunities are there for young science researchers looking for exposures abroad?
The basic mandate of DST is to support and promote scientific research in India. Therefore, we do not have any specific scheme with regards to academic study, abroad or at home. We only support scientific research in project mode to faculty members, scientists and researchers in India. The academic/study related mandate is with Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).
As far as promotion of young researchers is concerned, we have many schemes and programmes with partner countries where in we encourage the involvement and participation of Ph.D and post-docs students in our funded projects. Currently, in most of the collaborative projects, Ph.D students are involved as project participants. These projects are in all areas of science & technology, including engineering, computer sciences, materials, medicine, drug discovery and delivery, claim change, renewable energy including bio and solar, clean technologies, environmental technology, earthquake prediction and engineering, genome and preteomics, ICT etc.
Asian Science Camp is another programme similar to Lindau Meetings and is organised by JSPS Japan and is meant for students from Asian countries only. In addition to Nobel laureates, other eminent scientists also speak at the Asian Science Camps. Besides, DST also organises and supports participation in International workshops, summer schools in India and abroad.