New Indo-EU pact will enable Indian talents to join research teams in Europe

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NEW DELHI: The European Commission and the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) signed an arrangement on Wednesday to enhance scientific cooperation and enable Indian social scientists to join research teams in Europe, supported by European Research Council (ERC). The European Union (EU) and India already cooperate in the field of research and innovation, but this is the first scheme boosting research in social sciences and humanities.
European Union ambassador Ugo Astuto and member secretary of the ICSSR, an autonomous body under the education ministry, Prof Virendra Kumar Malhotra, signed the arrangement in a virtual mode. The virtual signing ceremony was attended by director for international cooperation in the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation of the European Commission Maria Cristina Russo, ERC president ad interim Prof Jean-Pierre Bourguignon and ICSSR chairman and University Grants Commission vice-chairman Prof Bhushan Patwardhan.
The initiative will provide opportunities to Indian researchers, including principal investigators of research projects, senior fellowship awardees and post-doctoral fellows, who are supported by the ICSSR and want to pursue research collaborations with European researchers. More cooperation in research and innovation and in all (other) areas will be available under the EU next research and innovation programme ‘Horizon Europe’ (2021-2027), an EU statement said.
EU ambassador Ugo Astuto said, “Global research collaboration is essential for developing sustainable solutions to global and societal challenges. This arrangement will help foster collaboration in the field of social sciences between the EU and India.”
On the agreement, Maria Cristina Russo said, “Social sciences have a critical contribution to make in helping understand and design a more sustainable future for all. In the next EU framework programme ‘Horizon Europe’, there will be many opportunities to increase our cooperation”.
From the Indian side, ICSSR member secretary V K Malhotra said: “The expectations are that it will allow ICSSR scholars to deepen and widen their knowledge by engaging with ERC grantees across Europe”. Welcoming the initiative, ICSSR chairman Patwardhan hoped that a number of potential scholars will benefit through carrying out research visits with ERC-supported teams. He stated that “India has great scientific tradition, which has been deeply embedded in our civilizational and cultural values”.
Making the concluding remark at the ceremony, ERC president ad interim Prof Bourguignon said: “I am pleased to see the launch of another research initiative involving a key funding body in India – a country of great scientific tradition hosting much research talent. It will be a win-win for Indian visiting scholars and ERC grantees.”
Since the start of the ERC in 2007, 62 Indian nationals have been awarded an ERC grant. Compared with other non-European grant holders, Indians are ranked third after nationals of the US and Canada.

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