No cash prizes with govt’s new science honour ‘Vigyan Puraskar’ — ‘why do scientists need cash prize’

New Delhi: After scrapping more that 300 science awards last year, the Union science ministry this year introduced four awards meant to incentivise scientists — but none of these will have any cash prizes associated with them. 

Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) Director General N. Kalaiselvi confirmed to ThePrint that there are no cash prizes associated with the Rashtriya Vigyan Puraskar, which has four prizes under it — Vigyan Ratna, Vigyan Shri, Vigyan Yuva-Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award and Vigyan Team. 

“Why do scientists need cash prize? There will be a medal and a citation,” Kalaiselvi said to ThePrint during a press interaction at the Anusandhan Bhavan Monday. 

Another senior official at the ministry confirmed the same. 

The last Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award will be presented this year, on Tuesday, at the Bharat Mandapam as part of the celebrations for the CSIR’s foundation day. 

Recipients currently receive a cash award of Rs 5 lakh and a special honorarium of Rs 15,000 a month until that person reaches 65 years of age. 

Even the Bharat Ratna and Padma awards, the highest civilian honours, don’t have a cash prize. 

Responding to a question about the lack of women’s representation in the Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar 2022 prize recipients, Kalaiselvi said, “Earlier, there were very few women coming into science. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar award recognises the work done over the last 5-10 years. So there are less women candidates.”

“But in the next two to five years, it is my belief that we will no longer need to ask such questions.” she added. 

The new awards announced by the government will be given to scientists and innovators working in the government as well as private sector organisations — or even those working in their individual capacity — who have made distinguished contributions in science and technology-led innovations.

(Edited by Sunanda Ranjan)

Also Read: 12 men—India couldn’t find a single woman scientist worthy of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize



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