NEW DELHI: A massive fully-funded PhD fellowship programme at IITs for students from ASEAN countries was on Monday launched by Extremal Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, who hoped the platform will help in generating "new business ideas" and "exciting technological breakthroughs".
The programme billed as "the largest of its kind" will select 1,000 students in three phases.
Jaishankar inaugurated the programme at the Jawaharlal Nehru Bhawan here and also launched a portal for receiving applications from students.
The government will spend Rs 300 crore on this fully-funded PhD fellowship programme for students from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a senior official of the Human Resource Development (HRD) Ministry said.
IIT-Delhi is the coordinating agency for this programme which will select 1,000 students in the next three years.
"This year 250 students will be selected, 300 the year after and 450 in the subsequent year," Secretary, HRD Ministry, R Subrahmanyam, said.
ASEAN is an intergovernmental organisation in Southeast Asia.
Its 10 member countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Launch of PhD fellowship programme for ASEAN students in IITs in India https://t.co/5Azr4ZIAui— Raveesh Kumar (@MEAIndia) September 16, 2019
A senior MEA official said the programme is fully-funded by the HRD Ministry and the External Affairs Ministry is a partner in it to popularise it through outreach to ASEAN countries.
"This is the launch of a platform for the largest capacity building programme in the ASEAN-India partnership so far. Through the launch of this portal, we open our celebrated Indian institutions, the IITs, to a 1,000 brilliant students from ASEAN partner countries for doctoral research," Jaishankar said.
The external affairs minister also said, besides mutually benefitting ASEAN countries and India, this programme will also "enhance the global reputation of IITs".
"Through this fellowship programme, we hope these bright students will help transform the world by doing research in cutting-edge areas such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, smart materials, advanced manufacturing, target drugs and bio-engineering," he said.
"We expect that next generation of new business ideas and exciting new technological breakthroughs will be launched by the platform provided by this fellowship enabling further research by ASEAN and India together," Jaishankar added.
The fellowship was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year at the 25th anniversary commemorative ASEAN-India Summit here.
Union HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said he was delighted that the Indian government launched the fellowship that will also enhance cultural and technological bonds between ASEAN and India.
"We have 23 IITs which are the top institutes and today, with this programme, it will lend a big strength for ASEAN countries and take our generations a long way ahead," he said.
In his address, he asserted that, "Through this fellowship, we will polish these students like diamonds and give it back to you".
The programme was also attended by Thailand Ambassador Chutintorn Gongsakdi, Vietnam Ambassador Pham Sanh Chau, Envoy of Indonesia Sidharto Suryodipuro and other diplomats from various ASEAN countries.