Bhubaneswar, Aug 28 (IANS) Assuring more funds for promoting scientific education and research in the country, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday laid the foundation of the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER) here.
The NISER is to be on a par with the four Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISER) being set up in the country.
However, the new institute of higher learning in Orissa will operate under the umbrella of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), Manmohan Singh said.
'I am aware that we must increase our expenditure on science and technology (S&T). India's expenditure on S&T is about one percent of our GDP. This is half of what developed countries are devoting to S&T,' said the prime minister who is on a two-day visit to Orissa beginning Monday.
'The government is committed to increasing R&D funding. For the last few years, we have been allocating larger budgets for R&D. For example, last year, we increased it by 20 percent. We shall strive to reach the target of two percent in the 11th Plan (2007-12),' Manmohan Singh said.
He emphasised that alongside the government investment, the private sector also needs to do more to promote R&D activities in all areas of science and technology and create opportunities to attract the best scientific talent.
'We have to improve the quality of teaching of science and mathematics at the school level. Countries like China and South Korea are far ahead of us in investing in science and technology. We need to do much more in this vital area if we have to keep pace with the evolving global economy of the future,' the prime minister said.
'The NISER will facilitate this synergy between research and higher education,' he assured.
The new institute, to be set up in two phases, will undertake an integrated five-year masters courses in core and emerging branches of science. It may also include an integrated M.Sc.-Ph.D. after the graduation level.
'The emphasis of education at NISER will be to generate scientific trained manpower of a very high quality which could directly find placement across the country,' the prime minister said.
'Greater emphasis will be on branches of science relevant to the DAE and also catering to the better exploitation and utilisation of Orissa's regional natural resources,' he added.
While working within the DAE family and awarding degrees under the Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI), which is already a deemed university for post-graduate studies, NISER will compare with the best institutions in the country in terms of facilities and faculty.
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