Campus Notes

Govt. institutes Amartya Sen Awards as part of plan to rejuvenate social science research

NetIndian News Network

New Delhi, February 6, 2012

Union Minister for Human Resource Development Kapil Sibal today stressed the need to rejuvenate social science research in the country and attract bright minds to the field and announced that the Government would institute ten annual awards to recognise advancement of knowledge in social sciences. 
"I hope that due recognition to social scientists and their contributions would spur thousands of aspiring scholars in the future. These awards will be known as the Amartya Sen Awards," he announced while inaugurating  the "International Conference on Indian Social Sciences in the Changing World: Roles, Responsibilities and Reforms" here.
Sibal said that, while the field of sciences recognised advances through research through the Bhatnagar Awards, there was no comparable recognition to high quality research in social sciences. 
He said the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) would develop a fellowship scheme for embedding young scholars in the universities interested in pursuit of social science research. 
Simultaneously, the quantum and number of fellowships awarded every year also need to be enhanced, he said.
Sibal said ICSSR could create a network of eminent academics to collaborate on creation of academic content including publications of texts, digests and manuscripts in specific areas in social sciences. These manuscripts would provide an inexpensive aid to teachers and students in social sciences and would be available in different languages. The manuscripts could be delivered electronically, leveraging on the gains of the National Knowledge Network which aims to interlink all institutions of higher learning with an information super-highway, he said.
He said ICCR could take the lead to develop a Social Sciences Knowledge and Research Network (SSKRN) as an open source, virtual assembly of research papers of quality. This Network could host peer reviewed research papers and Ph.D theses in social sciences, both priced and free, depending on the choice of the author. The SSKRN could also provide authorised translations of hosted research papers in various languages for the community of researchers in the country, he said.
In order to develop capacity in new and frontier areas of trans-disciplinary research, ICSSR could establish a National Social Science Research Innovation Centre, he said. The Centre could identify innovative research methodologies in frontier areas of knowledge and assist in building a network for carrying forward the research interests of institutions, scholars and teachers.
Sibal said the functioning of ICSSR had been reviewed by an eminent group of social scientists, which had given valuable suggestions which are intended to be taken forward in the Twelfth Plan. 
He also underlined the need for greater research in areas such as agriculture and defence, where inadequate research is done at present. He also pointed out that the government would continue funding these research institutes, as at present there is no other source of funding for them. 
Planning Commission member Abhijit Sen underlined the need for ICSSR institutes to focus on research that helps achieve an inclusive society. He also stated that the institutes must have a link to universities.
The key note address for the conference was given by Professor Pranab K. Bardhan, University of California, Berkeley who underlined the need for greater social science research in India, especially mid level research. He also pointed out areas where research in social sciences needs to be undertaken. 
This two-day conference will have four plenary sessions on Global Challenges and Social Science, Indian Social Science: Trends and Gaps, Institutional and Financial Strategies, International Experience: Approaches and Institutional Mechanisms and six Technical sessions on Emerging Global Scenario and the Place of Social Sciences, Indian Social Sciences in the World Today: Emerging Issues and Gaps, Approaches to Social Science Research in India, Social Science Research and Policy: Emerging Priorities, National and Regional Challenges for Strengthening Teaching and Research and Financial and Institutional Strategies: Comparative Experiences.