New Delhi: The government will provide annual scholarships to five Indian students for doctoral research in science, engineering and mathematics to create a “critical mass of performing scientists”, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.
The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to support five Indian students every year for doctoral research in science, engineering, and mathematics at CMU, Minister of State for Science and Technology, Y.S. Chowdary, said in a written reply.
“The SERB proposed to spend $2.4 million while CMU will spend at least $5 million on Indian students who will be selected from 2016-17 to 2020-21,” Chowdary said.
“This overseas doctoral fellowship program is aimed to build national capacity where the talent supply of researchers in the areas of interest to the country is sub-critical,” he added.
According to Chowdary, the program will in the long run create a critical mass of performing scientists in niche areas to strengthen national programs of interest to the country.
Global ride-hailing major Uber on Wednesday rolled out a driver rewards programme called “Uber Plus” in India that will let drivers earn points for rides so that they can win free doctor consultations, concessions on education modules, access to micro loans, faster airport pick ups and savings on vehicle maintenance costs.
These points will be earned by the driver partners in 13 cities over a fixed period of every three months and can be then accumulated to unlock higher rating tiers such as blue, gold, platinum and diamond which, in turn, will let them access better rewards, informed the company.
“Under the programme, the Uber drivers get access to four tiers. To unlock these awards, they need to maintain a certain threshold rating and keep a low cancellation rate to unlock access to these benefits,” Prabhjeet Singh, Head of Cities, Uber India and South Asia, told IANS.
“We have always worked towards prioritising their welfare and making them feel valued, respected and appreciated. ‘Uber Plus’ is an effort in that direction and will enable our driver partners to access greater benefits during their everyday journeys,” he added.
The rewards and offers are only available to drivers who use the Uber driver app, are participating in Uber Plus and meet applicable criteria.
Asked if this initiative will help in bringing down the number of cancellations, Singh replied: “We encourage ri ders to flag such cases if the driver cancels because the mode of payment is not cash, etc. That will help us take strict action against such drivers.
“We want to encourage behaviour which helps improve the marketplace reliability. Less the cancellation, the chances of the trip getting completed goes up and, overall, the network efficiency increases.”
An initial pilot phase was carried out in Delhi-NCR, Chandigarh and Mumbai and now, Uber Plus is being rolled out across 10 new cities, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kochi, Guwahati and Jaipur.
“We also want to reward drivers who have lower cancellations,” said Uber.
Under the driver programme, Uber has partnered with “Ayushman Bharat” to provide access to free healthcare to its drivers, wherein they have access to free healthcare of up to Rs 500,000 in empanelled hospitals. (IANS)