HRD begins process for creation of National Research Foundation

The Human Resouce Development (HRD) ministry has kickstarted the process of creation of a National Research Foundation (NRF) and a proposal is likely to be put up before the Union Cabinet soon.

According to a senior official, a detailed project report for the creation of this body, which will provide a boost to research in the country had been readied and would be circulated among various related ministries for their comments.

The proposal could soon come up before the cabinet, maybe, this month itself, the senior official said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had announced in her budget speech that the Centre was planning to set up the NRF to boost research.

According to a senior government official familiar with the matter, a panel of nearly 80 experts including NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant, former revenue secretary Hasmukh Adhia, Niti Aayog, principal scientific adviser to the PM, K VijayRaghavan, former ISRO chief K Kasturirangan, former Infosys CEO Kris Gopalakrishnan and top HRD officials hads given a detailed plan on setting up NRF to the ministry.

According to the report submitted by these experts under the ministry’s Education Quality Upgradation and Inclusion Programme (EQUIP), NRF may be commission by an Act of Parliament and will aim at achieving excellence in knowledge creation and research and innovation infrastructure.

Its operations should follow a so-called hub-and-spoke model with a network of Centres of Excellence (CoEs) located in premier institutions, the report further said.

NRF will fund research projects through grants. It will establish high-intensity thematic research labs in areas of science such as oceanography, nanotechnology, and Information & Communication Technology.

“NRF will be an apex body formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister and will aim for excellence in knowledge, people and infrastructure. It will focus on promoting R&D activities in branches of science and technology, humanities and social sciences identified through national and state missions,” the report said.

According to the panel, which was formed on the direction of the Prime Minister’s office and whose report was submitted to HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, NRF will establish and support research centres in existing higher education institutions. It will also support and fund postdoctoral students.

“The overarching goal of NRF will be to enable a culture of research to permeate through our universities. In particular, NRF will explicitly aim to remove the current obstacles in creating a global quality research ecosystem in the country by providing a reliable base of merit-based peer reviewed research funding, helping to develop a culture of research in the country through suitable incentives for and recognition of outstanding research, and by undertaking major initiatives to seed and grow research at state universities and other public institutions where research capability is currently limited,” the report said.



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