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Research hit hard in PU, funding, projects drop Govt Policy Needs To Change: Prof

January 07, 2019 06:11 AM


Research hit hard in PU, funding, projects drop
Govt Policy Needs To Change: Prof


The number of sponsored research projects has reduced by more than 50%, funding agencies have fallen from 37 to 10 and funding has dropped from Rs 84 crore to Rs 25 crore at Panjab University (PU) in the 2017-18 session in a free fall that is going to affect the quality of research.

“Good research needs good funding. When you don’t have funds, the quality of research will certainly suffer,” says professor B S Bhoop, coordinator, UGC-Centre of Excellence in Applications of Nanomaterials, Nanoparticles & Nanocomposites, PU, and professor at University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS). Bhoop says the focus of the present government is more on skill-oriented courses and less on research, terming it the reason behind fund crunch in all the research agencies. In the absence of funds, the sponsored projects by different funding agencies will eventually reduce. The policy of the government on research should change, he suggests.

However, professor M Rajivlochan, director, internal quality assurance cell (IQAC), PU, feels the decline in the number of funding agencies will only affect research if it continues for a few years. “I don’t think it is going to make much difference to the overall research output because in the end sponsored research translates into papers and that number (papers) should not be reduced. If the number remains low for four to five years, then it is a problem. At the moment, it is not problematic at all,” argues Rajivlochan.

The data on the sponsored research projects was submitted by the departments for National Institutional Ranking Framework to IQAC of PU.

Prof O P Katare, former director of research promotion cell, PU, says, “It is now a known fact that majority of the funding agencies are not providing funds for research. This is one of the reasons for the decline in the number of projects. It is not that university researchers are not applying, the problem is at the end of the funding agencies. For one of the projects, I was already given the sanction letter by a funding agency but they failed to provide me any funding. When I asked them the reason, they simply said they have no funding.”

Funding agencies the problem: Prof

Prof O P Katare, former director of research promotion cell, PU, says that emphasis is on translational research, however, funding is required for basic research too. The data, Katare says, does not reflect the aspirations of the researchers. He says people are applying for the projects but the problem is at the end of the funding agencies. Further, he says, this directly affects the research outcome. Professor Rajat Sandhir, former associate director, research promotion cell, PU, says, “After 2015, the UGC did not invite any research proposal. Moreover, after the 12th five-year plan got over in 2017, many schemes were discontinued. So, the fund crunch with the funding agencies is one of the major reasons that the number of sponsored projects have decreased.” Research at PU is funded by different funding agencies, including the government, ministry of science and technology, ICMR, INSA, AICTE and UGC among others. According to data available with the university, the government sanctioned five projects to PU in 2017-18 session and department of biotechnology (DBT), ministry of science and technology, two projects. However, department of science and technology sponsored 20 projects to PU in the 2017-18 session.

Sources say there are a number of departments in PU whose sanctions have been withdrawn a year after their projects were approved by the agencies. Bhoop says the government has to change its policy on its investment in research

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