Research Scholars across universities in limbo over months of delay in fellowships

Students belonging to minority, SC/ST communities allege bias say they are neglected.

New Delhi: All the big talks of the Narendra Modi led NDA government on focusing on education and research are appearing hollow to the research scholars enrolled in different universities across the country amidst repeated delay in disbursement in the fellowship money.

Research scholars visiting the UGC office on August 17, 2015
A number of research scholars from universities across the country are finding it extremely difficult to financially sustain them over delayed disbursement of fellowship money. It should be mentioned here that research scholars who get fellowships are generally required to present in their respective universities and are not allowed to work outside.
As per the UGC notification, the fellowship is supposed to be disbursed in the first week of the every month. However, research scholars complain that they rarely get scholarships on time.
“I have not got any money for over five months now,” said Abu Saleh, a research scholar at the prestigious Central University of Hyderabad, adding “This is not the first time that there has been delay as every few months this problem arises.”
Research scholars who get fellowships from Ministry of Minority Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice, Ministry of Tribal Affairs through Canara Bank appear to have been hit hard this time as many have not got the money credited to their accounts for almost six months now.
Worried students have knocked at the possible doors, mailing, tweeting and visiting concerned departments and ministries, including the respective bank branches, UGC office, concerned ministries; but there seems to be no full proof solution.
The recipients of Maulana Azad National Fellowship (MANF) and Rajiv Gandhi National Fellowship (RGNF) are now suggesting bias, and have mailed to respective ministries several times and met their representatives on Monday, August 17 and again on August 24.
The Representation Letter these students have prepared, adds, “Although the efforts put towards their PhD work by the scholars under the above mentioned schemes is same as that of other PhD scholars availing fellowship under different funding agencies (MHRD-Gate and UGC JRF-NET), however, the fellows under the MANF/RGNF have always remained neglected.”
Canara Bank officials have told students that they do not have any fund to distribute since the concerned ministries have not released any fund for several months. Minority Affairs Minister Najma Heptullah had earlier assured the students to look into the matter. Her Ministry, in a written reply to one of the scholars, has said that the MoMA has no fund crunch and they have already transferred the money to the UGC. She later also tweeted that she is trying to have direct transfer scheme to overcome clearance from different departments that delay the process.
One main confusion in fellowship distribution is the involvement of several universities: The Money from concerned ministries go to the UGC, the nodal agency for all universities, that transfer it to bank for distribution only after certificates are uploaded regularly by the bank. Sometimes universities required to sign the required documents also delay the whole process.
Sushmita Roy Ghosh, another research scholar from West Bengal expressed her frustration saying that when we call the designated bank branch, they ask us to call the UGC, which in turn ask us to contact the concerned ministries. “We are running in circles for weeks now,” she said.
Amir Khan, a research scholar from at Sharda University in NOIDA, said that every time they are assured that the money will come soon, adding that the Social Justice Ministry have not released the money so students getting RGNF are most hit.
Several worried students noted that due to financial issues, they are not able to concentrate on their research.
Note: At the time of filing this report on August 26, some students did get the fellowship amount of some months credited to their accounts, but there are apprehensions that the problem may crop again soon as there is no full proof solution.

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