Civilian PhD students at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology (DIAT) can expect some relief as the institute has announced that it will resume scholarships payments to the students as per the original unrevised rates with immediate effect.
“A decision to this effect was taken at the meeting of the DIAT’s board of management on Friday and the institute has since effected the e-transfer of scholarship money to the concerned students,” DIAT deputy registrar (administration) T V Ananthasubramanian said in an email to TOI.
The decision to pay enhanced scholarships as per the revised rates, however, will be taken after the HRD ministry responds to clarifications sought by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) through a letter on September 7, he added.
“If approved, the scholarship payments will be effected retrospectively and arrears will be paid to the students,” Ananthasubramanian said.
TOI, in its issue dated September 10, had reported that 70 students pursuing their PhDs in engineering and applied sciences were left agitated by the institute’s sudden move to suspend their monthly scholarships for the last two months without any intimation. The institute is a deemed university governed by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and HRD ministry norms, and is funded by the DRDO.
The students were being paid a monthly stipend/scholarship of Rs 16,000 (applied sciences) and Rs 18,000 (engineering) for the first two years and Rs 18,000 and Rs 20,000 for the third and fourth year in that order. There is no provision of scholarship after the fourth year. In March, the HRD ministry announced a revision in the rates of PhD scholarships to Rs 25,000 per month for a junior research fellow (first two years) and Rs 28,000 for a senior research fellow (third and fourth year) across all central institutions.
The students claimed that after giving them a revised scholarship of Rs 25,000 in June, the institute stopped payments for July and August without any prior notice. It did not provide the scholarship even at the earlier rates, they said.
Students said that Friday’s decision provides some relief, but added that they were not sure how far the institute would execute its promise to extend them the enhanced scholarships, despite its commitment to abide by the UGC and HRD ministry regulations.
The students had earlier gathered in front of the meeting venue at the institute to stage a peaceful protest by displaying placards highlighting their grievances. After the meeting, DIAT registrar Rear Admiral (Retd) V S Batra met the students and conveyed the board’s decision to them.