Persistent pressure from researchers across the country and growing support for their campaign led the ministry of human resources development (MHRD) to effect a retrospective hike in stipend to research scholars. In a tweet late on Monday, the MHRD notified that it would implement the increase in fellowships announced late last year.
“The revised rates of fellowship/assistantship will be effective from October 1, 2014 in respect of PhD students, as per order issued by DST and December 1, 2014 in respect of ME/MTech/MS/MDes students as per order issued by the UGC,” the revised notification dated March 2, 2015 reads.
“The revised rates of fellowship/assistantship will be effective from Oct 1, 2014 in respect of PhD students, as per order issued by DST and Dec 1, 2014 in respect of ME/MTech/MS/MDes students as per order issued by the UGC,” the revised notification said. But research scholars said the notification still left many things unclear. Pankaj Jain, a researcher from IISc, said, “The revised notification, unfortunately, doesn’t address all the issues. It has no mention about the category of PhD students after post graduate degree in professional courses like ME, MTech, etc.”
In the 2010 notification (the last time fellowship was hiked), this category carried stipends of Rs 18,000 and Rs 20,000 apart from the others who attracted stipends of Rs 16,000 and Rs 18,000. “We wanted annual hikes. Besides, some sections have been ignored. For instance, the PG students who have completed professional courses do not feature in the Tuesday notification,” a scholar said.
The researchers had demanded a stipend hike for junior research fellows from Rs 16,000 to Rs 25,000 and an increase from Rs 18,000 to Rs 28,000 for senior research fellows.
Partially pacified though, the researchers who had resorted to hunger strikes, online campaigns, human chains on streets, poster protests and so on, will take it slow now and negotiate for their other demands.
On Monday, from morning to about 10pm, hashtag #RIPResearch was trending second in India on Twitter. “That was part of our campaign. But, it was removed suddenly and in about 10-15 minutes, the official channel of MHRD tweeted about the revised notification. The notification found place on MHRD website only today by 11.30am,” Pankaj pointed out.
Support from Oxford, netas
The campaign run by researchers, last week had garnered global eyeballs with international journals Science and Nature highlighting their cause. This week, students from the Oxford India Society too pledged support to the cause. In a mail sent to Indian researchers from their official email address, the students wrote: “This is a very serious matter for research in any academic discipline. Indian scholars are paid an unsatisfactory stipend due to which research is not a lucrative career option in India.”
News Courtesy: indiatimes.com