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March 19, 2019
Out of 282 research proposals, almost half of the projects chosen in the first phase were submitted by IITs
In 2018, Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) was launched with an aim to improve the overall research ecosystem in the country, including private institutions. However, strict eligibility criteria made the scheme restrictive with only the country's premier institutes benefitting from it.
This year, out of a total of 282 research proposals made under the scheme, 151 from various IITs of the country have been selected in the first phase. One research proposal each from Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Aligarh Muslim University and Tata Institute of Social Sciences are also among the selected projects.
"Based on the merit of proposals, IITs will get the majority of initial SPARC funding. Mid-level institutes will come in the forefront only after they collaborate more, strengthen their faculty and researches," said Timothy A Gonsalves, director, IIT Mandi. Institutes not as established as IITs or NITs in terms of infrastructure and research facilities are still dependent on collaborative researches with premier institutes. "The criteria for the first phase did not allow middle-range institutes to compete. At the moment, the scheme will target the overall research scenario through collaborative projects. But, gradually in the upcoming phases, other institutes might be able to participate directly," said Adrijit Goswami, professor, IIT Kharagpur and joint national coordinator for SPARC scheme.
"Initially, the premier institutes such as IITs, NITs will lead the way for average performing institutes because of eligibility and quality benchmarks. As Indian institutes ranked within the bracket of overall top-100 are eligible to submit proposals, it automatically takes a number of institutions out of the league," adds Gonsalves. Seven faculty-led projects have been selected from IIT Mandi for the first phase of the SPARC scheme.
Gonsalves credits the institute's strong foreign collaborations for the selected proposals. "Currently, students' participation is limited but Ph.D. level students will get an opportunity to work at foreign universities for a period of three months to one year, which will be funded through the SPARC grants. Also, a considerable amount of the research grant will be spent on getting faculty and researchers to India from foreign universities," added Gonsalves.
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