INSPIRE Awards renamed as MANAK
The INSPIRE Awards (Innovation in Science Pursuit for Inspired Research) is a popular outreach program of the Department of Science and Technology (DST). Since its inception in 2010, nearly 13.85 lakh students have been funded. The INSPIRE scheme is now set to be rechristened as 'MANAK' (Million Minds Augmenting National Aspirations and Knowledge) from 2016.
The INSPIRE Programme
The INSPIRE Programme has three components: Inspire Awards for attracting talent at an early age; Scholarships for Higher Education; and Fellowships for opportunities for Research Careers. INSPIRE Awards were established to encourage children to think independently and identify solutions for problems in their vicinity. Children would exhibit ideas in a science fair and be awarded Rs.5000 to turn them into a working model.
MANAK: Name change or reformulation?
The DST was concerned that competitive parents and schools were pushing children to participate in science-fairs and in the process stifling creativity. The name change is accompanied by a 'reformulation': refocus on innovative ideas that can be worked on by professionals and developed for commercial use; intellectual property rights would be granted to children. This year, the DST aims to select 60 such ideas.
The National Innovation Foundation (NIF), an autonomous body set up under the DST, is tasked with scouting and documenting grassroots technological innovators. The DST will rope in the NIF to ascertain that innovative ideas submitted by children are in fact original. The NIF will be required to cross-reference these ideas across its database to ensure duplicitous or recycled ones are eliminated.
National Innovation Foundation
Gujarat based NIF started functioning in March 2000. Since then it has built up a database of 200,000 technological ideas, innovations and traditional knowledge practices from 600 districts of the country. It has also recognized 900 grassroots innovators and school students at its award functions.