The news is making rounds on social networking sites, thankfully now on electronic and print media too, due to repeated representations, obligations and protests by Research Scholars throughout India for fellowship hike. Being myself a Ph.D. research scholar I, can portrait a better picture for the need and demand for fellowship hike.
Let me provide you broader information. To get enrolled and adhere to doctoral programme, it itself is a challenge in time of competition. The primary requirement to get enrollment in funded institute is to make its eligibility criteria. Students strive for years to get that eligibility that requires in the form of CSIR, UGC, GATE-JRF/SRF, M.Tech, 2 Years research experience as Project Fellow from national laboratory or you have to appear for combined national level exams in centralized and state universities that vary from institute to institute. This costs them their age, time, money, health and respect in the society. Later they had to apply and appear for Interview or personal discussion and in some cases both written and personal interview to get enrolled for doctoral programme.
So, after all these necessary procedures they have to pay admission fee ranging from Rs 20 k to 50 K, along with independent semester fee for every academic semester. Finally they become eligible to get fellowship of Rs 25 K to 28 K and contingency grant of Rs 20 K per year, which was previously 16-18 K and was hiked by 56% in year 2014. According to Times of India news paper there are approx. 1.25 Lakh research scholars and 60 -70 % of these research scholars are supporting their families. In the contingency grant you have to mange national and international programe / conferences/ symposiums/ workshops and sometimes consumables and chemicals which are not enough and there remains no other option for a scholar to spend his/ her money from the monthly fellowship besides all the other expenses of livelihood, health and other travels expenses.
Now, instead if you consider other countries research scholars are getting 10 times higher stipend than India and that too within timeframe.
Research scholars and scholastics unions all over India have been writing, tweeting to various funding agencies, officials and ministries and making their representations for grievances to be redressed. So, far no decision has been taken which forced the student community to go for nationwide strike besides continuous and independent strikes held at various IITS, IISc, NCL , NITs and IISERs . Indeed it has been heard, that officials have given a green signal and have ensured that the stipend will be hiked and regular revision of fellowship will be undertaken.
Hopefully, the genuine demand made by research scholastics community of India would be addressed and hike would be considered with continuous revisions on time to time basis, so they can work harder with sincerity.
Umar Ali Dar
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