Dr Manmohan Singh Scholars announced

Three outstanding Indian students will begin study for their doctoral degrees at St John's College this September as winners of the first Dr Manmohan Singh Scholarships.

The scholarship programme, announced in New Delhi last November, has been set up in honour of the Indian Prime Minister who is a graduate and Honorary Fellow of the College having gained a First in Economics in 1957. It will enable academically outstanding Indian students to study for the PhD and MPhil degrees in subjects like Science and Technology, Economics and Social Sciences. The scholarships are fully funded and include academic fees, international airfare, a monthly stipend to cover living expenses and a UK Visa.

Niladri Banerjee, 24, is reaching the end of his master's programme at IIT Kanpur. After his PhD he would like to remain in academia. "I always dreamt of being able to go to Cambridge . Probably because I heard that Isaac Newton studied there. The desire was very persistent, so much so, that it can safely be called a childhood dream," says Niladri, who grew up in Kolkata.

Manasa Patnam, 23, who was a teaching/research fellow at the Lahore University of Management Science (LUMS), is studying to be an economist and would like to focus her work on health and development issues. "I have been to the UK while studying for my MSc degree at the University of Oxford . I made many friends of diverse nationalities there," says Manasa who went to school in Delhi .

Nitu Duggal, 31, who is pursuing an MPhil in Educational Research at the University of Cambridge, has spent 10 years working with underprivileged children in a Delhi Administration school. "It is a very rich experience working in an international community. Cambridge with its natural beauty and historical importance is a wonderful place to study," says Nitu.

The Master, Professor Chris Dobson, said: "We value the College's strong association with India. This scholarship programme is our way to honour Dr Manmohan Singh for his pioneering role in the economic transformation of his country; one of the greatest achievements of any of our alumni.

"We are confident that the scholarship programme will bring lasting benefits to future generations of Indian students."

The Dr Manmohan Singh Scholarships are sponsored by Rolls Royce India , the BP Foundation and the Tata Group, and are managed by the British Council.