India is a special focus of the Max Planck Society in its international collaborations. This correlates to the steadily rising number of internationally acknowledged Indian institutes that are working in scientific fields, in which Max Planck Institutes also look for partners worldwide. In the year 2016 for example, 805 young visiting scientists at Max Planck Institutes came from India, an increase of over 25% over the past six years, which makes India one of the most important partners for international exchange of young scientists.
At the same time, the number of Indian doctoral students in the last 10 years has gone up almost 20-fold. Many of them are enrolled in the 55 International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS) which, traditionally, prove to be extremely attractive to Indian doctoral students. 50 percent of graduate students are foreign nationals and the programme is run in English. With 178 participants, Indian scientists constitute the largest group of participants from abroad in these doctoral training programmes.
24 Max Planck Partner Groups have been established in India since 2005. Partner Groups are led by former Indian guest researchers of Max Planck Institutes of proven scientific excellence who have returned to their institutions in India and continue their research activities in close co-operation with their former hosts. The work of each of the Partner Groups is supported for five years with up to € 100K, allowing the returnees to build up their own Research Groups in India and to remain in close research interaction with a Max Planck Institute.
Research links are being institutionalized by establishing Max Planck Centers of excellence in pioneering research fields: In February 2010 the Indo-German Max Planck Center for Computer Science (IMPECS) was inaugurated at IIT Delhi. The Indo German Max Planck-NCBS Center was established at the National Center for Biological Sciences in Bangalore in September 2011.
In addition, the Max Planck Society with its “Max Planck India Fellowships” has developed a new and India-specific programme, with the goal of linking young Indian top researchers to Max Planck Institutes. This programme has given the 31 young Indian scientists who have been sponsored to date the opportunity to spend minimum one month every year at a Max Planck Institute for a period of up to four years. In 2016 in total there were 53 project cooperations between Max Planck institutes and research facilities in India, and offers, such as Partner Groups or Max Planck India Fellowships.
Kick-off workshops enable scientists from Max Planck Institutes to acquaint themselves more closely with research conditions in India and to make initial contacts to Indian scientists. So far 15 such very successful workshops have been conducted.
Furthermore, as many as 53 project co-operations are being pursued by scientists from Max Planck Institutes jointly with partners in India. And under the “Memorandum of Understanding” between the Max Planck Society and the Department of Science & Technology signed in 2004 co-operation with the Indian Partner Institutes is to be promoted and intensified.
On October 30, 2007, Federal Chancellor Merkel and the Indian Prime Minister Singh flagged off the Indo-German science exhibition train, the “Science Express” at Delhi railway station. This exhibition on wheels, based on the Science Tunnel of the Max Planck Society, travelled 15,000 kilometres up to the beginning of June and stopped in 57 cities all over India. The success of the train was overwhelming as shown by the 2.2 Million visitors who came to see it. It has been touring since under the responsibility of the Indian Government and having attracted more than 6 Million visitors to date. In 2015, 830 Indian guest scientists and fellowship holders, also from India visited Max Planck Insitutes.