This is really, really big.
Simply because of the prize money. At 5 million rupees, each prize is worth twice as much as the highest award for scientists in India: the India Science Prize [see footnote].
And also because of its coverage -- there's a prize in each of five different areas: mathematical, physical, biological, engineering and social sciences.
Here's the company's press release:
Infosys Technologies Ltd. (Infosys) today announced that it has set up "Infosys Science Foundation", a not-for-profit trust to promote research in sciences in India. Under the aegis of the foundation, Infosys will honor outstanding contributions and achievements by Indians across various sciences. The annual award for each category is Rs. 50 lakh.
The Infosys Science Foundation will be funded by a corpus of Rs. 21.5 crore contributed by Infosys executive board members and an annual grant from Infosys Technologies Ltd.
The “Infosys India Prize” categories include:
Physical Sciences – Physics and Chemistry
Mathematical Sciences – Mathematics and Statistics
Engineering Sciences – All branches of Engineering
Life Sciences – Biology and Medicine
Social Sciences and Economics – Economics, History, Sociology, Political Sciences and other Social Sciences
The jury panel for each area will consist of eminent international personalities in each area selected by the trustees of the foundation.
Announcing the award, Mr. N. R. Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor and Chairman of the Board, Infosys Technologies Ltd. said, “India needs bright minds across all areas of academics, government, business and society to strive for global excellence. We need to encourage research in India to address our developmental problems. This award will honor outstanding researchers who will make a difference to India’s future.”
All in all, a great move for Infosys. It'll now be associated with the most prestigious award in the country.
Now, how long is it going to take before someone institutes the Indian version of the Genius award, aka the MacArthur Fellowship?
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Footnote: The India Science Prize has been awarded only once in its five year history -- to Prof. C.N.R. Rao.