The revised eligibility guideline introduced in the National Overseas Scholarship (NOS) scheme by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, where several important research topics have been excluded has invited a mixed response from academicians. Under clause II of its mandatory eligibility condition, candidates will be not allowed to pursue research on Indian Culture/Heritage/History/Social Studies, through this scholarship from foreign universities at PG, PhD, and post-doctoral levels in overseas universities.

The NOS scheme is offered to 125 students from SC/ ST/Traditional Artisans backgrounds, every year in two rounds to study overseas. The scholarship is granted to eligible students after reviewing the unconditional admission offer letters, issued to them from one of the top 500 ranked foreign institutions/universities. On selection, financial assistance for the duration of a maximum of three years for pursuing a master’s course and four years for a PhD is given to students.


Points to debate

“Increased emphasis on Science and Technology is important but achieving it by undermining the importance of Social Sciences is not a good decision. Research in Social Sciences is a conflict resolution-oriented domain and complements technological advancements for making life easy and comfortable for humans. Social Sciences research helps humanity and resolves conflicts. Technological innovation alone cannot address the challenges of humanity leading to caste-related violence and hatred in society. To understand social problems and find a solution, research and higher education must be encouraged,” says Avatthi Ramaiah, dean, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.

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Raveendranath Nayak, director, Graduate School of Management at IILM University, Greater Noida, says the new eligibility will prevent the fund wastage involved in sending the NOS students to Europe, the USA, or Australia to pursue Indian culture, heritage, and History. Agreeing with the government’s decision, Nayak adds, “The students interested in pursuing research on marginalised communities, will get a better chance to study its history and evolution in terms of the socio-economic condition by staying in India. As the population sample resides in India, not in foreign countries. Besides, the fieldwork will also be limited within Indian locations. By enrolling in the Indian universities, students will have better exposure to studying about the marginalised communities through the lens of social science and humanities.”


Balanced approach


A professor at the Ambedkar University of Social Sciences, on condition of anonymity, says, “Many research aspirants used to apply for NOS only to get foreign exposure. The overseas universities offered cross-cultural learning options on heritage and enabled diverse opinions through deeper studies and interactions. With the restrictions imposed by the government, we may lose quality research and restrict students from expanding their horizons.”

Ramaiah recommends, “A list of criteria could have been exercised for implementing the revised eligibility norms. A blanket ban on the listed research topics will lead to limited, accurate and new data that will raise social concerns. In the future, comparison-based Social Science research might decline.”





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