As the nation-wide protests by research scholars for revision in fellowship stipend intensify, T5E correspondent Anvitha Reddy studies the present situation.

Timeline

2014: Last hike in fellowship

After a gap of four years, fellowship money was revised from Rs.16000- 18000 to Rs. 25000-28000 (by 55%) after an outcry similar to the present protests.

February 2018: Prime Minister’s Research Fellowship (PMRF) announced

Government seeks to encourage undergraduate and dual degree students from IITs/NITs/IISERs/IIITs to apply for PhD in IITs/IISc with a fellowship of Rs. 70,000-80,000 and research grant of 2 lakh rupees.

September 2018: Protests begin

Protests for hike in fellowship stipends for research scholars begin.

November – December 2018: Petition for hike

Scholars submit a petition to K. Vijay Raghavan, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, for a second revision of fellowship money.

Social media support was amassed through Facebook page Hike Research Fellowship ,Twitter handle @HikeFellowship and hashtag #hikeresearchfellowship.

All India Research Scholars Association (AIRSA) is one of the leading national collectives of research scholars. Nikhil Gupta is the National Representative and Coordinator of Research Scholars of India.

On December 26th, Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Prakash Javadekar assured scholars of a hike larger than the previous one.

January 2019: Protests by researchers of various centrally funded institutions intensify

On January 4th, Department of Science and Technology (DST) assures stipend hike.

On January 16th, around 2000 research scholars and students from IITs and CSIR take part in a protest outside Shastri Bhavan of whom, around 700 were briefly detained by the police. Protestors sought a hike in stipend to Rs. 50,000 per month for a Junior Research Fellow (JRF) and Rs. 55,000 for a Senior Research Fellow (SRF).

On January 21st, research scholars in IIT Madras joined the nation wide protest with a silent march in the campus.

As of January 28th: Hike awaited

HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar and Minister of Science and Technology Harsh Vardhan promise a positive announcement by February 1st, 2019.

In conclusion

The present fellowship stipend of Rs. 25,000 for a JRF and Rs. 28,000 for an SRF has been, by multiple accounts, termed severely insufficient for the expenses of a typical researcher who, more often than not, also supports his/her family. Sights are set on a positive reform of the situation by the end of the month.

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