Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research (INSPIRE) is a national programme implemented by the Ministry of Science & Technology for attraction of talent amongst the students to study Science and pursue career with research.
The programme has 3 components, Scheme for early attraction of talents for Science (SEATS), which has two sub-components – INSPIRE Award of Rs. 5000 and Mentorship through global Science leaders at a science camp. Second component is scholarship for Higher Education (SHE) at the rate of Rs. 80,000 for continuing education at B.Sc and M.Sc levels and the third one is Assured Opportunity for Research Career (AORC) for young researchers which also has two sub-components – INSPIRE Fellowship and INSPIRE Faculty.
While the first component of the Scheme – INSPIRE Award is being implemented centrally through the States and Union territories, the other components of the Scheme are being implemented centrally by Department of Science & Technology (DST) through the concerned academic or research institutes and Universities etc.
The objective of INSPIRE Award Scheme is to motivate and catch the young students in the age group of 10-15 and facilitate them in experiencing the joy of innovating and thereby attracting them to pursue careers in Science.
Under the scheme, as approved for the 11th Five Year Plan, two students are selected from each school of the country (from class 6th to 10th) during the Five Year Plan period for an INSPIRE Award of Rs. 5000 each for preparing a science project/model. INSPIRE Award Warrant is issued directly in the name of selected student and sent to him/her through state/school authorities.
All Awardees under the scheme are required to participate in the District Level Exhibition and Project Competition (DLEPC). Best 5 to 10 per cent entries from the districts are selected for participation in a State Level Exhibitions and Project Competition (SLEPC). Best 5 percent entries from the State/UT, subject to a minimum of 5, are selected to participate at the National Level Exhibition and Project Competition (NLEPC). At all levels the projects are evaluated by a Jury of experts. Participation/merit certificates are issued to the selected awardees of DLEPC, SLEPC and NLEPC, as well as, mentor/teachers who guided them for the preparation of the projects. The entire cost of organizing exhibitions at district, state and national level is borne by the Department of Science & Technology (DST).
Merit based selection of the students for INSPIRE awardees is done by Head Master/Head Mistress/Principal of each school, who is required to send nomination of best children having aptitude for science, with requisite details giving also the criteria adopted by the school for nomination and selection. District education authorities compile details of the schools in their jurisdiction in the prescribed format and send the proposal to DST through the State education authorities.
All schools in the country, whether Government or private, aided or unaided, run by Central Government or State Government of local bodies, and having classes 6 to 10 are eligible to participate in the scheme.
Proposals so received from the State authorities are processed in DST in accordance with the norms of the scheme and the list of the selected students is sent to the banker of DST for preparation of Award Warrants in the name of selected students. The Award Warrants so received from the bank are sent to State authorities for onward delivery to the selected awardees through district education authorities.
Present Status of Implementation
The scheme envisages selection of one million (10 lakh) students during the Five Year Plan period @ of 2 lakh awardees per year. There are about 4.5 to 5 lakh schools in the country which would have classes 6 to 10. The scheme was launched during December, 2009. However, implementation could start only in 2009-2010, and 1.26 lakh Awards were sanctioned during that year. In addition, 2.50 lakh Awards were sanctioned during 2010-2011, and as on date 5,36,598 Awards have been sanctioned and award money amounting to Rs. 268.30 crores sent to the selected students in the form of INSPIRE Award Warrants.
Since the inception of the scheme, more than 2 lakh Awardees have participated in DLEPSCs, about 15 thousand selected Awardees of DLEPCs have participated in SLEPCs, and recently about 700 awardees participated in the first ever NLEPC held at Delhi during August 14-16, 2011. All the 35 States and union territories are participating in the scheme.
Funds to meet the expenditure in connection with DLEPC, SLEPC are released to the State Nodal Officer through electronic fund transfer to their notified bank account. As on date, an amount of Rs. 74.52 crores have been released to the States /UTs to meet the expenditure in connection with DLEPC/SLEPC/NLEPC.
The scheme is likely to continue during the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017) also, may be with an extended coverage, under which a proposal to sanction one Award per school per year is under consideration of the Government. If approved, this would mean 2 million (20 lakh) Awards to be sanctioned during the 5 year period @ of about 4 lakh Awards per year (assuming participation of about 80 to 90 per cent of the 4.5 to 5 lakh schools in the country).
*With inputs from Department of Science Technology, Ministry of Science & Technology.