The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), since its inception, has been pursuing basic research as well as technology development with equal rigour. Over the years, a robust institutional framework has been put in place. Today, apart from industrial units, DAE runs 4 major research centres and 7 grant-in-aid institutions. These are listed below:
1. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Mumbai
2. Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam
3. Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology (RRCAT), Indore and
4. Variable Energy Cyclotron Centre (VECC), Kolkata
1. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Mumbai
2. Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics (SINP), Kolkata
3. Institute of Plasma Research (IPR), Gandhinagar
4. Institute of Physics (IOP), Bhubaneswar
5. Harish-Chandra Research Institute (HRI), Allahabad
6. Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), Mumbai and
7. Institute of Mathematical Science (IMSc), Chennai
While in the research centres the focus is more on technology and product development, the grant-in-aid institutions concentrate relatively more on basic research. In the process, the research centres and the grant-in-aid institutions have together provided high caliber technologists as well as scientists to the Department but for which India’s spectacular strides in the field of nuclear sciences and their applications would not have been possible.
A key element of the success achieved in the manpower development is the visionary initiative of Dr. Homi Bhabha who set up the prestigious BARC training school in the year 1956. In addition to the training school at Trombay, training schools have been set up at other places as affiliates of BARC training school. The BARC training school and its affiliates have been running a remarkably successful Orientation Course for Engineering graduates and Science post-graduates (OCES). The grant-in-aid institutions, apart from carrying out research, have been running pre-doctoral and doctoral programmes, which have helped in producing high quality scientific research personnel. It is in this respect of an in-house human resource development programme that the DAE has been unique.
The DAE has not only trained manpower for running its own programmes, it has also made significant contributions to the National scene. It has strengthened the research programmes at Universities by providing grants for well-defined projects. All grants are channelised through the Board of Research in Nuclear Sciences (BRNS), which has the distinction of being the first agency in the country for funding extra-mural research. In the recent years, funding through BRNS has been significantly stepped up and the Department is planning to further expand its activities.
A new scheme called DAE Graduate Fellowship Scheme for Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) with the twin objectives of human resource development and collaborative research through the medium of M.Tech. students was launched by the BRNS in the year 2002. The scheme envisages selection of M. Tech. students admitted to one of the 6 select IITs for working on a project of interest to DAE under the guidance of faculty from IITs and DAE. Such students receive enhanced financial support from the DAE while pursuing M. Tech. and on completion of which are ensured employment within the DAE system.
Along with massive in-house basic research and technology development programme as well as support to such programmes in academic institutions and other national laboratories, the Department has thus been exceptional in having variously contributed to human resource development. Self-reliance of our atomic energy programme and world-class excellence realized in commercial performance of our indigenously built nuclear plants testify to the soundness of the approach.
However, the demands for self-reliance on the DAE have been rendered even more arduous to fulfill because the Department is the target for technology control regimes imposed by some of the technologically advanced nations. In this scenario, the country and, in particular, the DAE have to necessarily take innovative steps to consolidate the gains achieved so far and take fresh initiatives for enhancing the capabilities to meet the imminent and future challenges.
It has, therefore, become imperative that DAE conceives of novel ways through which in-depth capabilities in nuclear science and nuclear engineering are unabatedly nurtured within our institutions. It is in this context; Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) with a Deemed to be University status has been established. The MHRD vide notification No. F.9-5/2004-U.3 dated June 3, 2005 has declared Homi Bhabha National Institute (HBNI) a Deemed to be University along with ten Constituent Institutions (CIs) (As mentioned above- 4 R&D Centres and 6 Grant-in-aid Institutions, excluding TIFR, Mumbai, which is a Deemed University on its own).