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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Prime Minister's Research Fellowship (PMRF) Scheme

We have a crisis on hand. Not enough quality PhD students in STEM fields leading to poor quality research and lack of quality faculty.

Solution: Prime Minister's Fellowship Scheme (PMRF)

In this scheme, the government wants to encourage under-graduate students (or those studying in 5-year integrated programs) from IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIITs (only centrally funded ones) to join IITs/IISc for PhD and offer them a huge financial incentive, both personal money (3 times the regular PhD students in these institutes) and research grant.

This scheme is flawed in so many ways that I don't know where to begin.

First, let us talk about eligibility. Are the graduates of these 60+ institutes the very best that this country produces. If yes, we have a much more serious problem of under-graduate education. Thankfully, there are many institutions in India who are better. I know Computer Science education in this country better than most other disciplines. Is there any doubt that IIIT Hyderabad provides a better CS under-graduate education than almost any NIT (if not all NITs). IIIT-Delhi, BITS Pilani, Jadavpur, and I can go on and on with a large number of CSE programs who will be better than a majority of NITs. The lower half of NITs is really pathetic in Computer Science education (and I would guess in other disciplines as well).

So, is this scheme for quality students, or is this scheme for CFTI students. The government should be bold enough and admit that this is to help CFTIs and not about quality. After all, these are their colleges. Of course, being the regulator of the sector and also a player in the sector is nothing new for the government. That it has led to seriously flawed schemes and conflict of interest issues over the past several decades should not deter the government to keep making the same mistakes.

But if they wanted to support their own colleges, why restrict it to only under-graduates. Is there any doubt that many of IITK MTech students are much better prepared for PhD than BTechs from several colleges in this list. Why not make the same offer to MTech graduates. There is a huge bias in favor of UGs in the system. "Getting a good rank in JEE is tougher than getting a good rank in GATE" is the Mantra here, even if false, purely in terms of number of people who give JEE and GATE.

Some people may argue that it is very difficult to come up with an exact set of good colleges in every discipline and the set that the government has chosen is good enough, and while some good students will be missed, keeping it open to all students would have made it extremely difficult to ensure that only the best get this scholarship. Why couldn't government let IITs decide who the best students are (even that is flawed as we will see next, but is better than restricting the pool to a few CFTIs). The only reason that individual IITs and IISc cannot decide who will get this fellowship is that government cannot trust them. There may be good reasons not to trust IITs, but then that the best educational institutes in the country cannot be trusted individually and hence the selection has to be jointly by all IITs/IISc shows a much deeper malaise in our system, and perhaps the government needs to worry about that first.

So, frankly, there is really no reason to restrict the talent pool to poorer quality colleges (strictly in relative terms, in absolute terms, many of the NITs are doing a fine job of preparing their students). It could be open to all and we need to figure out who are the best students working on research problems of national priorities.

Second, let us talk about the institutions where one can do PhD. For some strange reason, only IITs and IISc are allowed to host these students. Again, are these our best institutions in STEM. I would guess that IISERs, TIFR, CMI, ISI, would have stronger research programs in science than most IITs. IIIT Hyderabad and IIIT Delhi would have stronger research program in Computer Science than most IITs. Why are we forcing the cream of the nation to do research in second best colleges. Is IIT mafia at work here.

Is it really very difficult to come up with a program in which quality students from all backgrounds are selected and the student can work in any institute.

The third problem in the scheme is that of the quantum of support. Given that it is an extremely biased scheme, the huge difference with the existing assistantship amount will demoralize a lot of PhD students. At IIT Kanpur, we are admitting about 250 PhD students in a year. Only a fraction of these would get PMR Fellowship. Now, many of those 250 students will actually perform better than these PMR Fellows. How would they feel about  the system. Those who do better research get paid less and those who do worse research get paid more. Why. Because these other students got a few marks less in JEE a few years ago or they were smart enough to find out that a lot of state/private colleges are actually far superior to NITs. The goal of the scheme is to encourage PhD research. The scheme will only end up discouraging a large number of excellent students from doing PhD.

There are other issues with the scheme. It suggests that these PhD students will work in research areas that are national priorities. Who will decide national priorities. Who will determine if the student is actually working on a problem which is a national priority. I haven't seen any list of priority areas yet.

The research grant of these PhD students is Rs. 2 lakh per year. This is when the research grant of IIT faculty remains at Rs. 1 lakh per year. If you really want to support research and build a research eco-system, shouldn't you be looking at all the cogs in the wheel.

The assistantship of other PhD students get raised only after many years (last raise was in 2014, if I remember correctly). Should we not move to a system where some increment is given to PhD students every year to take care of inflation. Again, look at all the cogs in the wheel.

The student will be interviewed by a panel consisting of one faculty representative of each institute desirous of admitting a PhD student with PMR Fellowship in that discipline. For most core disciplines, it means that 24 professors will be interviewing a student.I can't imagine facing an interview board of 24 persons. I would be too stressful and won't be able to perform in such an environment. And, of course, if a student gets nervous, we will be quick to declare that s/he is not good enough for PMR Fellowship.

It is also not clear how the decision will be taken. If some IITs want to admit a student, but some other IITs don't want to admit the student, will that be possible. Will we tell the student that as far as IITX is concerned, you did well in the interview, but IITY thinks that you did not do well in the interview. Or are we going to tell him, IITX being a second rate IIT has agreed to admit you, but IITY being the first rate IIT has decided not to admit you. Is there clarity on this.

Now, the numbers. About 30,000 students are graduating from all those lucky CFTIs. One would guess that about 30% of these students would have a CGPA of 8.0 or higher. So the total number of eligible students is, say, 10,000. Will we be able to attract 1,000 students out of 10,000 to do PhD in IITs/IISc. I have my doubts. What it will result in is that anyone from any of those CFTIs with 8+ CGPA can do a PhD in some IIT.

I think as of now, there are around 300 students from these CFTIs doing PhD in IITs and IISc, and may be another 100 doing PhD in other institutes. What this scheme will do is that those 300 who would have joined anyway with low assistantship will get higher fellowship. Most of those 100 in other institutes will now shift to IITs. May be another 100 who are not doing PhD will get attracted to do PhD, the primary aim of this scheme. And another 200 will join the scheme since the money is good, but will not be able to complete the PhD. So, may be they will be able to select around 700 PhD students in all. But the net addition due to this scheme who would also perform well and complete a good PhD would be only 100. And to add these 100, we would have lost another 100 who would have been demoralized by this scheme. So the net impact of this scheme will be zero, if not negative.

And remember, the scheme is only talking of attracting quality students to PhD program in quality institutions. There is no thought about how would we ensure that these students after completing their PhD remain in India. Why wouldn't they join foreign places.

So we have a scheme which deliberately prefers students from poorer quality colleges, prefers them to do PhD in poorer quality colleges, and is based on mistrust of the best institutions in the country. It is discriminatory, demoralizes other good students in PhD programs, does nothing for the research eco-system as a whole, and does nothing to ensure that there is no brain drain (a stated goal of the scheme).

Added on 25/02/2018:
They could have taken inspiration from another large PhD fellowship scheme of the Government, Visvesvaraya PhD Scheme, managed by Media Lab Asia, under the Department of Electronics and IT. It is not as if I agreed with everything they did, but it was so much better. There was no discrimination (except PhD scholar could not be at a new private institutes who had not been accredited or approved), the amount was only marginally higher, there was a scheme for faculty too, there was money for the department to improve research infrastructure, there was money for conference travel. It was designed keeping in mind that not every institute is as well endowed as IITs, and yet, not every good PhD research is taking place in an IIT. The scheme made a significant impact as far as PhD programs in IT are concerned.


Abhishek Anand said...

There is a flaw in you conideration sir. You assumed that 30% score above 8.0 and calculated the no. of eligible students to be 10000. But you missed that not only paassouts of this year but passout of last five years are eligible for pmrf. Thus total no. of eligible student would be around 50000.
Please change the numbers

Bhargav Achary said...

I was surprised and disappointed that this speculation from 2016 happened to be true. Thank you sir for putting up a clear post on this topic. I really wish they establish a better and streamlined process of awarding such fellowhsips. This is hillarious to expect to obtain best research of national interest by cherrypicking only a few of cool and dynamic engineers from the ocean, and by giving some additional monetary incentive, just because they cracked JEE half a decade back.

I really wonder how it can be defined and quantified - “best research” and “national interest”.

Unknown said...

Logically well written.....though not sure about the numbers but rational used are legitimate.

Unknown said...

Also,I think students will find it an easy way to secure themselves while they prepare for PSUs or CSE.

Unknown said...

Well noticed.

Suma said...

Isn't it more important that we attract PhD holders with good postdoctoral research from good institutions towards working here so that overall everything will improve? They will give their lifetime body of research here. Those stufstud who want to do PhD's abroad- let them, but get them to return and retain them

Saswata said...

I have another take on it. It is excellent that the government is paying a large amount as stipend for a selected set of Ph.D. students in a selected few institutes. Why can't the institutes/funding agencies match the stipend for the rest? For example, DAE can now increase the Ph.D. stipend for TIFR/IMSc/NISER/HRI etc. IIIT Hyderabad can go for asking corporates to fund this much stipend for Ph.D. students. IIIT Delhi can approach Delhi government. IITs can pay the matching amount to their remaining Ph.D. students to maintain their motivation.

I understand that this may be a difficult situation to manage financially for all institutes, and this can possibly come through an increase in UG tuition fee that is much lower than the international standard (even after taking PPP into account). But this much-needed move to significantly increase the Ph.D. stipend had to be started somewhere to keep faculty engaged in active research by attracting good Ph.D. students. Such research-active faculty would be able to teach UG students better with the help of these Ph.D. students being TAs/tutors in courses and higher research productivity would also help in better ranking for these institutes, justifying the increase in UG fees as opportunities these days are somewhat related to the world rankings of institutes.

Unknown said...

Very well written. Unfortunately. looks like the top echelons in MHRD hardly have any clue of the state of higher learning in engineering. A far better way would have been to increase the scholarship money for the JRF/GATE qualified PhD candidates in institutes that have a good graduate program. Also, trying to push BTech students into PhD programs with money as incentive have proved to be grand failures in the past, and this scheme is another disaster waiting to happen. Bachelors and doctoral program are two separate beast and success in an entrance exam is hardly a precursor to someones's academic and research potential. Sadly, a virtual caste system exists in India that tend to rate some BTech program highly (as pointed by Prof. here) , when the reality is something else.

Sahil Gupta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aparichit said...

I have to write it will come to know why..I’m a research scholar at IITD and I have been a student of NIT and IITK earlier. When I joined institute I really had high hope from the infrastructure point of view. As I had been hearing for a long time that one need not to bother about fund and facility at IIT’s. But that was not the case. Even today after more than 1.5 yrs we don’t have the facility to sit and work in confined space. Not a single system is allotted to us to work on and if we go and work on a system of computer lab then either our data will be lost or lab incharge will ask us to leave for scheduled classes. Problem just does not end here, a month back only we have got access to internet 24*7 in hostels and still it is not available to each hostel (though they are working on this as they always say). My guide at IITK told me about lack of fund to carry out experimental works and something similar I have been hearing from my guide at IITD.
Apart from all these things I, as an individual, am feeling very bad to know that few very privileged guys are going to get thrice the money for the same work I have been doing just because I chose to join earlier without being lured in such scheme. And what about after completion of PhD they will again be prefered over us for all type of competitions and what is the guarantee that their outcome will bring revolution and whatever other existing research scholars are doing is of no use.
If someone wants to counter with a point that. there will be a fair selection and all then I would like to gently remind them that we have also gone through a process of selection and at IITD at my time criteria was same i.e. valid GATE card; 8 CPI; a written test and then interview. Then why we are treated like this?

RamaSatya said...

If the student does not complete the PhD program then the entire scholarship amount has to be returned. So, it wont be misused in that way

Unknown said...

At the outset let me clarify that I am no defender of the present Govt. That said any attempt to bring in bright students into R&D should be welcomed. We can do nitpicking with any scheme. Sadly, I did not find any 'bright ideas' in your write-up.
The reasons for poor R&D of India lie elsewhere. There is sub-critical pool of good researchers and perhaps good teachers and most importantly role models. Most research done in India (including in the famed and largely over-rated IITs) including in virtually all Govt funded labs is mediocre. There are few pockets of excellence though. The IITs are perhaps producing (good) engineers to do MBAs do sell soap or cosmetics in India or migrate to USA to help their economy. In IT, it probably is worse. Someone can enlighten me if there are any path-breaking contributions of the IITs in the IT sector or even for Indian R&D. This is reflected by the net import of technology from abroad in ALL sectors!
The Govt is ignorant of the needs of S&T sector by not providing necessary ambience for doing science. Scientists are poorly paid and with budget crunch, the few bright ones are frustrated and cannot carry out any meaningful research. I have listened to successive PMs of India over the last 25 years promising to hike R&D budget to 2%. The allocation is less that 1% now. There is a virtual ban on recruitment of scientists since 1996. Indian science is dying a slow and painful death. Ironically, the Govt expects miracles. Nobody in power seems to know how the S&T grew in Europe (especially in Germany before II world War) or the US, Japan, South Korea et al post-War or China now. Ignoramuses run science ministries in India.

I have spent over 35 years as grant administrator in a major Govt agency and it has been depressing to see that only cosmetic changes being done instead of addressing core issues.


Pallab said...

A start has to be made. I am sure that the PMRF can be tuned and refined over years. Endless arguments with suspicious and incomplete data does not add any value.

k said...

One point missing here. Students having more than 8 CGPA usually get lucrative jobs and they would not be attracted even by 80k.

sriram said...

At the outset it looks like we have reached a point wherein any move by the govt will be considered counter productive. So only productive option is to keep watching. Prof Dheeraj is right in pointing the loopholes in the system and these will be evident no matter what policy decision you take. All govts can only take carrot-stick approach. Now carrot is given , if this doesn't work , stick approach-- all IITians must work in india for 3 years.!!. General public who love to hate IITs will be very happy because though they are paying 3.5 lakhs/annum which is more than even IIIT H/ BITS there is a general feeling that all IITians are studying free at the cost of the govt. Ask Parents how much they are shelling through bank loans.

Only ans which work in the long term is minimal govt interference. How do we handle the situation now.No easy answers. I feel strongly if we need MITs/Stanfords in India it cannot come through govt schemes. Let us dissect BITS/IIIT H( author's favorite!) as to how they are managing and what is the motivation for them?. Isn't it profitable? Are they running under loss?. Can't we have more such institutes?. 3-5 years from now I will not be surprised if toppers in JEE adv prefer IIIT hyd as the first option.
My view is that only privatization can guarantee quality in the long run. To start with, can we start a new IIT with 30-70 (govt 30%) investment or dis-invest one of them.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@sriram, Most schemes would have pluses and minuses and will and can be improved over a period of time. Some of those minuses may be just a matter of opinion or perception. But this scheme is special because not just me, but a very large number of academics don't seem to be able to see pluses in this. As I said on twitter, my feeling is that MHRD does not have a strong stakeholder consultation mechanism, which Media Lab Asia had. MHRD only talks to Directors and VCs, and clearly from their perspective, it is great that they get to divide the pie among themselves. And because of this lack of wider consultation and consulting with only those whose job is to worry about their institutions' interest, MHRD often comes up with schemes which are poorer. If you look at Visvesvaray Fellowship of MLA, while the goals were somewhat different and hence not exactly comparable, still it was a scheme that changed the IT research in this country. The number of PhDs and the quality of those PhDs is much larger and better today than a few years ago. And I think it is because the scheme was designed with a lot of feedback from various stake holders. And that too is a government scheme.

Unknown said...

Sir,i am student from Dr.BATU,maharashtra. Why isn't the scheme not Eligible for all universities in INDIA ?. By making such fellowships...does it proves that only iitians are the cream..and others aren't ??

Unknown said...

Dear sir, Your views are highly appreciated. I would like to add one more point.
In case of research, a student is totally new. It is not about JEE or GATE type of written exam where he/she can single handedly perform miracles in research. Research is a slow, consistent process and faculty/supervisor plays an important role. When the same faculty could not do miracles in research how can we expect them to do world class research now with these IIT/NIT btech students?
The notion of taking so called highly intelligent IIT/NIT btech graduates and expecting them to perform miraculous research with existing incapable faculty and ecosystem is in itself the primary blunder that govt has done.

Pratik Bhansali said...

That's the point you missed I suppose. Secondly, the hike in UG fees is not viable. I have seen the financial constraints of these students. Additionally, even this high amount is costing only 60 crores per annum to the government. Some balancing has to be done.

Pratik Bhansali said...

Sir, may we publish your post on our portal, ' The Nation's Opinion'? I assure due credit and a categoric reference link to this blog.

Sharad Nandanwar said...

Completely agree. Why not make it fair for everyone and decide the stipend based on how one is performing in GATE (although this may have no correlation with the research aptitude of student). Does government only wants to trust JEE conducted by IITs and not GATE conducted by the same?

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Pratik, since one media house has already republished it, it would not be fair to republish it anywhere else without their approval as well.

sriram said...

You can't help thinking more on this important topic. Another diversion from my side.
I would like to think about an analogy.
Suppose you feel in your organization you need to attract bright youngsters and decide to increase fresher's salary by two folds. This is a clear strategy which will have few negatives as well , like a fresher might be drawing more salary than 1-2 years experienced folks in the organization. It happens. Difference might be notional with few people or significant with few others. You cannot have parity in the salary.Dept heads will decide based on the business environment.
One solution here is govt should not decide stipend for each scholar. It should allocate to the institute(say 100 Phds on avg 70K/month for each). Concerned director will distribute it to different depts. It is entirely left to the director of the institute (Cow which gives more milk will get more). Last mile distribution will be with prof. He/She will decide on the stipend amount to his/her scholar.If some person is ready to work for less with a prof , its their problem.
On whether only IIT/NITs ..etc are the only best is a case in point. We can follow procedure they adopt in US universities like recommendations, research quotient in UG/ Graduate programs etc. Lets trust profs in this too as they are going to be spending next 5 years with these folks, they will do due diligence in selection. But we must pay them well and this must be left to the profs/Institute where they are ultimately responsible. We can even attract foreign students and this will help broaden thinking and perspective within the institute.

Thank you

Unknown said...

Greetings Dheeraj Sir, nice to see your views on this highly debated topic. At first it may be good that the government is interested in increasing interest towards research by giving a very good stipend (even more than starting salary of professors). There are some concerns though.

1. The point about good institutes like BITS being ignored is but obvious. Many students joining BITS are already eligible for joining any NIT in the list but now obviously feel cheated. I myself am in such a situation where even after getting a very good AIEEE rank, I did not join an NIT but UDCT Mumbai (for Chemical engineering) and of course am not eligible for the scheme. If this scheme grows in popularity, there could be a severe drain of students joining other institutions towards NIT's at the 12th standard level, considering such salaries are not commanded in the Core engineering companies of chemical, civil, metallurgy, etc. (the lower ranks are accommodated).

2. Further looking at the program of the scheme, it shows two annual reviews, a compulsory annual conference which could put undue pressure for the Principal investigator to give more time to these students at the cost of other students, further widening the bridge.

3. The selection procedure as you have pointed out is vague. If there are indeed interviews why restrict the applicants only to CFTI's.

4. There is a huge spectrum of salaries being commanded by the different engineering streams. What maybe competitive stipends vis-a-vis industry for a Chemical engineering graduate may not hold true for a computer science graduate, thus the target student base will widely differ for each stream IMHO.

On a side note, this scheme is reminding me of strongly of the Special Rajdhani with a highly ambitious Time table and mass publicity but no punctuality and conveniently forgetting mission raftaar!

JPROCKS said...

Sir,I am student from SRES COE Kopargaon. Why isn't the scheme not Eligible for all universities in INDIA ?. By making such fellowships...does it proves that only iitians are the cream..and others aren't ??

freedom said...

Panel to decide on the Institutes of Eminence will be headed by a former Chief Election Commissioner!!! Clearly the government is attempting all kinds of gimmicks without talking to the stakeholders.

Unknown said...

Considering the "PATHETIC" & "POOR" quality of research in India, I don't understand what you mean by "CREAM" of the country. You talk about "QUALITY" of students, but what about "QUALITY" of "RESEARCH" in IITs and IIIT's. It's very mediocre.

And one reason for this is people like you who always try to divide students, and label them as "cream" and "ordinary". But remember one thing, Einstein formulated the law of relativity outside of college while working in a tax collector office.

You people are so arrogant. And stupid.

iitmsriram said...

@sriram (from another sriram),

Cow which gives more milk will get more (fodder, presumably) is applicable only if the milkman is interested in improving the business with increased turnover and profits. If the milkman gets fixed payment irrespective of any milk being produced or sold, why would he bother about giving more to the cow which gives more milk. He would simply give more to his favourite cow (on whatever basis it became his favourite) and life will go on.

The program was actually announced in the 2016 budget. After trying to get it flying in many different ways, it has ended up with the current model. I understand the PMO was very interested in getting the program going. IIT directors were consulted in multiple rounds, but as one can see, the end product leaves something to be desired.

As an aside, I disagree vehemently with Dheeraj that the research grant of IIT faculty is 1 lakh per year. Is this CPDA? CPDA is not meant to be research grant, IITs get plenty of budget support that can be used for research.

I just did completed a financial analysis for IITM, I am sure all old IITs will look something like this. The annual per faculty member spending is approximately 40 lakhs on pay and allowances (including for non-teaching staff), about 15 lakhs on scholarships, about 15 lakhs on maintenance and utilities, about 15 lakhs on (legacy) pensions and about 15 lakhs on infrastructure including buildings (good chunk in equipment); this is aside from the 15 lakhs on equipment and 50 lakhs on revenue expenditure from sponsored projects.

But, yes, comparison with faculty resources is interesting, especially since the 5th year fellowship at 80K per month is more than the fresh PhD faculty member salary of 70900 (as per 7 pc norm).

iitmsriram said...


Just because he was Chief Election Commissioner for his last three years in service, does one ignore what else he might have done before that? He was an IAS officer for 35+ years before being appointed to the election commission and has served in various roles associated with education. The IoE committee also has a former director of IIM Lucknow, the president of University of Houston and a senior professor from Harvard Business School, I think we can expect the committee to do a reasonable job, why throw rocks at it?

Kevin said...

I more or less agree with Prof. Sriram.

I have finished Masters in CS from IITM and currently pursuing PhD in Germany.
I would like to enumerate below a few of the reasons for my decision to pursue PhD abroad:

1. Germany has a good research environment. I think this is also applicable to countries such as the US, UK, France, Canada and so on. I can get things (related to research) done faster in these countries.

2. I felt going abroad gives me an exposure to different ways of life, work culture, language and food.

The bottom line is scholarship or stipend was never a deciding factor for me. I only made sure that the scholarship was sufficient to cover my personal expenses.

I feel this is the same with others too (at least in CS).
Hence I am skeptical about the success of PMRF in countering "brain drain".

Anurag SIngh said...

It is true that there is lack of consideration of how research happens among bureaucrats because so many institutes were left out inconsideration. In single state where I have had my undergraduate experience the not NIT IIIT college circuit is lot better where cream of state goes. Which is certainly not NIT. For example Delhi where NSIT,DTU(Formely DCE) and IIIT Delhi are more important choices as compared to NIT Delhi and provide better undergraduate experience. So if restraining the eligible colleges to IITs/IISERs/NITs/IIITs was to ensure only best and brightest minds get a chance for direct Phd the scheme fails miserably even after considering the assumption that undergraduate ability is best indicator for research potential.This assumption is in itself a hot debate but can be left out for some other occasion. Every state has such colleges which are equal or far better performing than respective NITs/IIITs. For example IIIT H for CS is considered far better than any of new IITs and IITs being in same league as old IITs. Or for that matter BITS Pilani or Indian Statistical Institute. In my honest opinion the PMRF is just a new failure of government where they happen to not understand how dynamics of Higher Education Work. In my opinion there is no chance that people who do Phd from these institutes are bound to serve in India helping the overall research culture and would be at MIT/ Stanford as a Post Doctoral Researchers if they happen to be successful in their research careers. The real revolution in research can only happen if government plans to invest in it heavily. The take away stipend in USA after normalizing the PPP would be slightly higher than India +5k/+10k but the amount of grants they receive for carrying out research projects speaks for the quality of research that happens there.

freedom said...

Let them bring some alien from space and decide who should be the Eminent Institute . Unless grassroot level problems are identified no gimmick will help. This requires talking to many people at the grassroots level, students and staff - the stakeholders which Dheeraj has rightly pointed out. Right now funds are being received by the Institutes and this does not seem to reach the all faculty members and students. Many a times they are being put to "other uses". In this context also Dheeraj is right in saying the grant received by any faculty members is only 1 lakh per annum. Let the concerned people initiate a survey just to take into account only one of the basic among the many issues, i.e., how the students feel about the research environment, whteher they get the resources, etc. This itself will show many loopholes and flaws in the system. As Dheeraj said the Ministry talks only to some "priveledged" set of people. Ostriches like to bury their heads in sand.

Saurabh Joshi said...

I agree with some of the points, such as, opening up PMRF for MTech students. A good BTech student would most likely prefer going to universities outside for higher degree. MTech students, I feel is a better audience to target as they are relatively more likely to stay back.

Also agree that when the difference in fellowship amount between a regular scholar and PMRF is so huge, it may lead to huge discontent and could potentially be counter productive.

Regarding in take, may be from their point of view, allowing all college/universities would create a huge number of applications and it would difficult to go through them all. Probably, they could also add Top 50/100 NIRF (which is their own ranking) so that students graduated from these (BTech or MTech) can apply.

vipponpreet kour said...

Scheme seems to create a huge gap between the all sections of the students. I think government if want to support students with the skills, then should support their ideas, vision and creativity not just some institutional tag one had. I believe creativity and problem solving nature ideas should be funded. Education and knowledge is not something you learn and excel at because you are in one of the elite institutes of the country. It is the vision and passion one gets without holding back the dreams because you don't have enough resources.

Dheeraj Sanghi said...

@Saurabh, we did it for PhD in IT related areas. We routinely do it when it comes to screening project proposals at funding agencies like DST. We routinely do MTech admissions where a large number of students apply. We know how to handle large number of applications.

Rahul Agrawal said...

Sir, nicely framed post. You rightly pointed out the issues with current scheme. Also, one can have apprehension as "how 'good researcher' a scholar can be, if he does research only for money." Presently, lot many undergraduates going for doctoral studies, do it purely because of fiscal benefits attached. The present scheme only amplifies those benefits.
Nevertheless, I believe we should give it a shot. If we cannot attract 1000 students, the leftover funds should be used for ramping up existing research facilities, over and above the already allocated budget.

Unknown said...

Agreed. but motive is to have an ideal eligibility criteria for future students in cfti to pursue their research careers. If students are interested in science I think there are number of ways to get into iiser like kvpy etc. I think adding iist and indian statistical institution will also make sense here

Unknown said...

very true..i think it may even cross 1 lakh

Unknown said...

Please visit this page:

How is it possible that even before the starting of the interviews a student from IIT Madras is confirmed to receive PMRF?

......... said...

PMRF scheme of MHRD is a completely got up and bizarre selection criteria formulated by IITs.As per Mechanical Engineering Department is concerned,they have rejected all the MTech/existing direct PhD students as per my knowledge who are presently in IITs/IISc.There is no transparency in selection of candidates.The students who were selected were just done by bullshit interviews making fun of PG students applied there.

No GATE/ No Written Test...Just a bullshit of interviews.
It is not a fellowship interview...It is just a normal PhD interview.I hope the panelists should look into how fellowship interviews are taken worldwide.

First of all they made a number of panels in random manner and randomly telling students to go in an interview panel of 3 IIT Profs.

Secondly the panelists most of them have no idea of cutting edge research we are pursuing like in my case they have no idea of what mechanobiology is and I regret to say that these panels are interviewing us.

Thirdly how they judge which candidate is fit I am sorry I really dont know as different panel have different mindset.So a candidate found to be fit in one panel may not be fit for selection in another panel.

Fourthly we have found that in some interview, profs are just chill asking some basic background of the candidates and asking 1-2 questions of course nowhere relation to research ( MHRD calling it a research fellowship interview) for 5 min or in some panel they are asking for 40-45 min.

Next important point to highlight is that they were supposed to ask questions related to research area or topic related to research area but nowhere I found they were doing so.They were testing us on the basis of PG course which was not supposed to be and for BTechs they were judging on UG course.In some panel,they were asking "beta tumhe kaunsa subject aata hain ? " and in some panels they started asking randomly to bizarre areas nowhere related to research.

Moreover, in a PhD interview panel generally there should be the potential supervisor or representative of that institute in which the candidate has applied to judge the meritocracy of the candidate or whether the resource is available to that institute but Alas !! PMRF committee doesnt valued to such norms or regulations and randomly selecting a panel.

One more important point is that they intentionally rejected many of the applicants proposal who might be in their 2nd or 3rd year of PhD programme in IITs/IISc.

Lastly they didnt even considered institutes like Jadavpur University/ BITS Pilani or many such though I am not going into this as Prof.Dheeraj Sanghi from IIT Kanpur has already condemned this.

All these matters are ofcourse not expected from IITs.

I request the panels that if you were supposed to do like that please refrain existing Direct PhD students or equivalent to refrain from applying.We would have satisfied.You are responsible for consumption of our time,money,resourse and emotions.

Aap na Roulette Wheel Selection Procedure se bhi karwa sakte the...(Sarcasm) ��������

Unknown said...

One more loophole is that even if an existing PhD student gets selected, there are very low chances that he might get admitted in the institute he is pursuing his PhD from and would be asked to start afresh in a new institute on a new project.

Unknown said...

If one will go and look at the research proposals of students recently selected from a top institute for PMRF, one will either laugh or will be in shock after discovering what kind of research is getting such a high grant. This tells how the selecting panel of the institute is biased and how the opportunities are snatched from the 'deserving' ones. This also tells that the proper channel through which the selection is done (reviewing/interviewing) was not followed!