German research at India’s doorstep

Published in The Hindu on June 30, 2012

The German Research Foundation (DFG) here will, on October 26 and 27, launch the German Research House for Research and Innovation (DWIH) that will serve as a one-stop shop for the Indian science community to know about research and science organisations in Germany and funding opportunities available to carry out research there. With this, India will become the fifth country to have the Science House. United States, Russia, Japan and Brazil already have such facilities. The first German House was started in 2009 in the U.S.

DWIH will bring 13 German members — research institutions, universities and funding agencies under one umbrella. Max Planck Society, the University of Cologne, Free University of Berlin, Heidelberg University – Heidelberg Center South Asia, and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) are some of the members. The German Research Foundation is also one among them.

“There are already these places of excellence, and we will join hands to produce synergy,” Torsten Fischer, Director of DFG India Office, New Delhi, told The Hindu .

Their objectives are to promote and facilitate bilateral projects in science, research and innovation, education and language, and develop content-based co-operation in science, research and technology with Indian partner organisations.

“We will create a virtual platform and also a physical one [German House] for the Indian scientific community to interact and get information,” Dr. Fischer said. The website is already ready for launch and the information will also be made available through social media network, including Facebook and Twitter.

“Germany is the first country in the European Union to do this,” he said.

Already about 4,000 Indian students have been going to Germany for pursuing science education. However, a fewer number of Germans come to India. “We want to increase this number [of Germans coming to India],” he said. To a question why India should be a destination for Germans for pursuing higher science education, he said: “India has some excellent professors that we don’t have in Germany, and some excellent infrastructure.”

Earlier, he addressed a group of 18 students doing their postgraduation, doctoral and post-doctoral programmes and who have been selected to attend the 62nd Nobel Laureates Meeting in Lindau, Germany to be held from July 1 to 14. Dr. Fischer told the students that opportunity allowed them to interact with students from several countries and Nobel Laureates. About 25 Laureates are expected to attend the meeting. According to him, the meeting offers an excellent opportunity to make contacts with fellow-students and experts in their fields.

These students selected from over 200 applications will be interacting with Nobel Laureates during the first week, and visiting institutions/laboratories and interacting with scientists during the second week.

“Indian students along with students from a couple of countries will have this unique opportunity,” he said. Following the Lindau visit, about five students interested in undertaking a three-month internship programme in the laboratories they have visited will be chosen based on merit by the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and DFG.