Dr Seemin Rubab
It has been observed world-wide that the number of talented and motivated students opting for a career in basic sciences is declining day by day. India or for that matter Kashmir is no exception in this regard. If all bright students opt for professional careers, a day will come when there will be a real crisis of getting good teachers to train students in professional and futuristic courses. Moreover for technological development a thorough back up of basic sciences expertise is necessary.Realising the gravity of the situation, several remedial measures have been undertaken. These include establishing of world class institutions of basic sciences, provision of fellowships, syllabus restructuring, new methods of delivery and integration. Integration is used here in wider sense meaning integration of disciplines, integration of programmes (integrated 5 years B.Sc. plus M. Sc.), integration with research institutes and integration with society. One of the mandates of National Knowledge Commission is to attract talented students for a career in basic sciences and mathematics.
New Initiatives in Basic Science Education
To impart high quality science education after 10+2, National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) has been set up at Bhubaneshwer. NISER is affiliated to Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI), a deemed university within Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Government of India. NISER caters a five year integrated M.Sc. programme in basic sciences (Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Zoology and Botany). There are hundred openings, 20 each for all five subjects.
The University of Mumbai and Department of Atomic Energy have jointly set up an autonomous centre for excellence in basic sciences UM DAE CBS in Mumbai, which offers a five year integrated M.Sc. program in basic sciences. Those performing exceedingly well in M.Sc. may have a chance to be absorbed in R&D units and autonomous research institutions of the department of atomic energy. Admission in both of the above mentioned Institutes is based on National Entrance Screening Test (NEST). However Kishore Vaigyanic Protsahan Yojna SA batch (KVPY fellows) and students who have qualified Indian National Olympiad Examination (INOE) are exempted from NEST. Students admitted to NISER and UM DAE CBS get a stipend of Rs 3000 per month along with a suitable annual book grant.
Five year integrated masters (M.S.) is also being offered at recently established Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) at Pune, Kolkata, Mohali, Bhopal and Thiruvanathpuram with intake capacity of 100 each. Eligibility for admission is based on the qualification of any of the two: KVPY batch or IIT JEE extended list.
Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) has been set up under Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in the vicinity of Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre at Thiruvananthpuram. IIST offers, inter alias, integrated masters in applied science (39 openings), post graduate, doctoral and post doctoral program in space science. Admission to IIST is on the basis of IIT JEE. Joint Admission Test to M.Sc. (JAM): From the Academic Session 2004-2005, Indian Insti¬tutes of Technology have started conducting a Joint Admission Test for admission to M.Sc. and other post-B.Sc. programmes at the IITs.
The main objective of JAM is to revive and consoli¬date ‘Science’ as a career option for bright students from across the country and provide them a single step opportunity for admission to some of the postgraduate programmes offered at the IITs. Integrated masters (B. Sc. plus M.Sc) or integrated doctoral (M.Sc plus Ph.D.) in basic sciences is also offered by older Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and TIFR. Admission to these programs is either through IIT JEE (Joint Engineering Entrance leading to 5 years integrated M. Sc. or through GATE.
(Writer is a Senior Lecturer in Physics at the National Institute of Technology (NIT) Srinagar)