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Rs. 80-cr grant to IIT KGP from HRD Ministry

Rs. 80-cr grant to IIT KGP from HRD Ministry
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Rs. 80-cr grant to IIT KGP from HRD Ministry

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Kolkata: There is no full stop to transdisciplinary research addressing global challenges even in the post pandemic. In fact, the scope seems to have expanded. And keeping that growing scope in mind, the Union HRD ministry has doled out a grant of Rs 80 crore to IIT Kharagpur towards the second phase of the Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) Programme.

"The data indicates a clear shift towards transdisciplinary research addressing global challenges and cutting-edge research. The insights will further boost international collaboration opportunities for science and technology institutes in India by aligning their thrust areas with global trends," said Prof Virendra K Tewari, Director, IIT Kharagpur who is the national coordinator for the SPARC programme.

Interestingly, in 2019-20, more than 300 international experts visited Indian institutions registered under SPARC for various projects and workshops. Close to 400 research proposals have been approved for funding to date.

Over 26 per cent of the R and D proposals and international outreach are focused on emergent areas of impact which included areas such as Advanced Electronics and Communication, Advanced Functional and Meta Materials, Structural Genomics and Evolutionary Biology, Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, Infectious Disease and Clinical Research.

This segment was followed by Action-Oriented Research with a 24 per cent accepted proposals in areas including Future of Earth: Green and Renewable Technologies, River, Ocean, Aviation and Space Management Technology, Technology Enhanced Education and Learning, including Assistive Technologies, Agricultural and Food Sustainability, Technologies for Rural and Women Empowerment, Law and Society.

Convergence areas of research is another significant segment with 22 per cent proposals in areas covering Transportation and Smart Infrastructure, Affordable Health Care, Advanced Manufacturing, Science and Heritage, Energy and Water Sustainability.

Quite significantly, the participation from US, Australia and UK witnessed highest visits covering close to 65 per cent of the international faculty visitors in 2019-20. The slump in 2020 though was expected, work was carried out through online conferences.

What is the road ahead then? "Going online is the new normal roadmap at least for programmes like SPARC and GIAN. While online mode has its drawbacks, on the brighter side it may swell the opportunities especially for those who otherwise find such collaborative work arduous due to extended physical visits," said Prof. Adrijit Goswami from IIT Kharagpur who is heading the Pan India coordination of the programme.

"With phase two funding of Rs 80 crore and the structured format of e-workshops, webinars, online classes and even research in virtual mode, the scope for productive academic collaborations at the SPARC-approved collaborating Institutes look promising," said Prof Goswami.

Ritwik Mukherjee

Ritwik Mukherjee
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