New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Increasing numbers of African students are keen to study in Indian universities, with a steep rise in African researchers seeking science and technology fellowships in this country, officials said Tuesday.
Speaking at the launch of the C.V. Raman International Fellowship for African Researchers 2013, Arabinda Mitra, Head-International Cooperation (Bilateral), Department of Science & Technology, said since its beginning in 2010, the programme has benefitted more than 300 African scientists and researchers.
"The first year of the programme (2010-11) attracted 135 applications from 28 African countries, out of which 86 were selected, while in the 2011-12, 78 of the 122 applications were selected," said Mitra.
"The third year of the programme saw a steady increase in the number of applicants as we received 400, of which 149 have been selected," he said.
The programme is intended to strengthen scientific cooperation between India and Africa by providing fellowships to African researchers for undertaking advanced scientific work in leading Indian institutions, laboratories and research centers.
Ravi Bangar, joint secretary (East & South Africa) in the external affairs ministry, called upon African Union nations that have not availed the fellowship to encourage their researchers to apply for it.
"I will request Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Namibia, Lesotho and the Seychelles to encourage students to avail the fellowship," said Bangar.
All fields of natural sciences, including mathematics and statistics, engineering sciences and medical sciences, are covered under the programme with the exception of humanities and behavioral sciences.
"The programme aims to provide an opportunity for enhanced capacity building of African researchers and creating avenues for partnerships and future collaboration among research and academic institutions of both the regions," said Nirankar Saxena, senior director, science and technology/innovation, FICCI.
Micky Lova, a recipient of the fellowship from Madagascar, said it has been a great experience and excellent opportunity to study in India.
"Collaboration between India and Africa is of mutual interest and it has been a great experience to work with Indian scholars and professors," said the PhD scholar studying in the geology department of Delhi University.
The programme is offered at three levels - post-doctoral fellowship (six months), visiting fellowship (three months) and senior fellowship (one month).
The function was attended by several African ambassadors to India, officials of the department of science and technology and professors of various universities.