Every scientist’s calendar includes September 26 as the date of the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar awards, India’s highest recognition for scientific achievement. This year, no announcement was made on the day, and the Government of India instead issued a notification announcing the discontinuation of approximately 100 awards and several fellowships in the field of science.
- Currently, government departments like earth sciences, biotechnology, space, atomic energy, etc., have separate prizes to recognise talent.
- In all, there are 207 such awards, of which 4 are national awards, 97 private endowments awards, 54 are lecture or scholarship or fellowship-based awards and 56 are internal awards.
- As per the notification,
- All private endowments awards may be discontinued.
- All lecture or scholarship or fellowship-based awards may be discontinued.
- The internal awards may be discontinued and wherever required, these awards may be merged in the proposed schemes for scholarship or fellowship.
- Most departments will now have only one award of a “high stature” instituted.
- Despite the changes, the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award that recognizes excellence in scientific research will be retained, though some say it is being diluted.
- The notification says,
- Concerning the monthly remuneration provided under the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award, a proposal to provide a lump sum amount in lieu of monthly remuneration was considered, but no final decision was made.
- It was also agreed that the monthly remuneration should be limited to 15 years.
About the ‘Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Awards’ –
- It is a science award in India given annually by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
- It is the most coveted award in multidisciplinary science in India, recognising outstanding Indian work (according to the view of the CSIR awarding committee) in science and technology.
- It is given for notable and outstanding research in applied or fundamental science, biology, chemistry, environmental science, engineering, mathematics, medicine and physics.
- The award is named after the founder Director of the CSIR – Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar.
- It was awarded first in 1958 and the names of the recipients are traditionally declared by the Director General on every 26 September, which is the CSIR Foundation Day. The prize is distributed by the Prime Minister of India.
- Any citizen of India engaged in research in any field of science and technology up to the age of 45 years is eligible for the prize.
- The prize is awarded on the basis of contributions made through work done in India only during the 5 years preceding the year of the prize.
- The prize comprises a citation, a plaque, and a cash award of ₹5 lakh. In addition, recipients also receive Rs. 15,000 per month up to the age of 65 years.