Research scholars in Bangalore staged a hunger strike in the IISc campus on January 19, in support of their peers in Delhi who'd been arrested last week for demanding higher stipends with the MHRD…
This issue seems to be never-ending, and @PrinSciAdvGoI has promised the students a speedy resolution. In the last few months, thousands of students around the country have voiced this concern in different contexts.
In August 2017, Aswin Sekhar called out the government's promise to remedy this situation only for a small group of students, asking if all others were the 'children of a lesser god'…
In January 2018, a dean of IISER Bhopal informed its students that the minimum CGPA needed to qualify for the INSPIRE SHE scholarship was being moved from 6.0 to 7.0. Just the year before, all IISERs had doubled their tuition fees.…
Another dimension of the same problem was that grants weren't being disbursed on time. The govt. considered Aadhaar-linked direct benefits transfer for CSIR/UGC fellowships, but in places like the IISc, it only made things worse…
One of the sources of consternation was the PM's Research Fellowship. So one year after its launch, @KrishnaAnujan and Kshiti Mishra followed up to see who had won it. Surprise: only 135 (instead of 1,000) had, and 96% of them for applied research…
Shortly after, the govt. announced that students from all institutions, not just IISc, IITs, NITs, IISERs and IIITs as before, would be able to apply for the PMRF…
In September 2018, the Indian National Science Academy announced that it was stopping its three-year annual research grant of Rs 5 lakh apart from two other facilities reserved for winners of its Young Scientist award…
Then in November 2018, late/irregular disbursal of insufficient funds to many scholars prompted a strike around the country. One of their demands: JRFs be set at Rs 50,000/mo and SRFs at Rs 56,000/mo in interim…
And of course, the Statue of Unity didn't help, unless you counted its ability to galvanise the opposition to it. Two scholars asked what the statue had that research didn't, apart from 'no immediate direct benefits to society'…
One student told @the_hindu, "The govt has been talking of making India a place conducive for progress in research, but its reaction to our appeal for a stipend hike appears to contradict that claim."
As well-meaning as the intention of those working to remedy the situation is, especially given how much it has worsened, a speedy resolution has become the prime demand. As another said, "We're done with empty promises. We need a system to revise stipend every year."
This excerpt from The Hindu on Jan 17: (but same article states final decision of govt-constituted committee headed by incoming expenditure secretary was expected in a week from Jan 4. Also, % hike left for finmin to decide, whereas *interim* demand was to double JRF/SRF amts.)
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