The Ministry of Culture introduced in November, 2009, a new scheme by the name of “Visiting Fellows in Art, Culture & Heritage”. Later, to mark the Commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, the scheme was renamed as “Tagore National Fellowship for Cultural Research”.
The objective of this prestigious scheme was to invigorate and revitalize the various institutions under the Ministry of Culture which have vast ‘treasures’ in the form of manuscripts, documents, artifacts, antiquities and paintings. It was meant to encourage serious researches into our cultural resources so that the nation stands to benefits from the results. Museums, for instance, could hardly display more than a small percentage of their entire holdings and they could use this scheme to encourage research and analysis of the objects that are not usually available for public viewing or use.
Under the scheme, scholars of iconic stature were to be invited to devote 2 years of their time to pursue research in one or more of the 17 cultural institutions covered by the scheme, so as to produce a valuable work based on the resources available in the institutions, to make those known to the wider public. In all, 13 scholars were selected as Tagore National Fellows, in the first cycle of selections. Details of selected Fellows are attached.
During the course of meetings of the NSC in which these 13 Tagore National Fellows were selected, members felt that, to prove more effective, the Scheme needed certain improvements, and made various suggestions in this regard. Based on the suggestions made by the NSC, Ministry of Culture has issued a modified scheme of Tagore National Fellowship for Cultural Research.
Following are the highlights of the modified Scheme:
1) While the existing scheme covers only 17 institutions under the Ministry of Culture (MoC), including one supported by it, the modified scheme will cover 29 MoC institutions, including all the three National Akademies and seven Zonal Cultural Centres.
2) Apart from Ministry’s own institutions, the modified scheme will also cover other selected institutions that are not under the Ministry of Culture, but have cultural resources waiting to be explored. While eight such institutions stand covered by the modified scheme announced today, other Non-MoC institutions that seek to take advantage of this scheme will be free to approach the Ministry of Culture for their inclusion. Such institutions whose name is approved by the NSC will keep getting included in the scheme.
3) All the 13 Fellows selected in the first round of selections, were selected by the NSC from out of the applications received for the Fellowship. Since it was felt that many top-grade scholars are reluctant to apply as non-acceptance of their application may harm their reputation, the modified scheme lays a greater emphasis on ‘Search and Invitation’ mode of selection.
4) In the first two rounds of its meetings, NSC felt that there are many scholars who are not of iconic stature but have a standing and can do research projects that may be very useful to the cultural institutions in disseminating their resources. Hence, the modified scheme incorporates a second category of scholars, to be known as Tagore Research Scholars, who will be paid a monthly honorarium of Rs. 50,000/- as against the honorarium of Rs. 80,000/- per month payable to Tagore National Fellows. Under this category, upto 25 awards will be given in a year. These will be in addition to 15 Tagore National Fellowships to be awarded each year.
5) Since the scheme seeks to employ the best of scholars in the field, some more flexibility has been built into the scheme. For instance, the Fellowship slots that cannot be filled in a particular financial year can now be carried forward to the immediate next financial year. Provisions relating to publication of research work resulting from the award of the Fellowship have also been made more flexible, to make co-publications possible.
6) Many provisions of the existing scheme have been elaborated to bring in greater clarity. For example, the modified scheme makes it explicitly clear that if a member of the Institutional Level Committee or the National Selection Committee applies for the Fellowship, he/she will not be invited to the Committee meeting in which his/her own case comes up for consideration and, in the event of his/her selection, such member will stand dissociated from the Committee.
The Ministry of Culture has invited applications/nominations, with 30th June, 2011 as the cut off date for receipt of applications for selections in the current cycle.