“The economic development of a country has a strong correlation with the research and development efforts which in turn requires more manpower. To increase manpower in research the stipend given to students should be attractive,” said Nikhil Gupta, who’s the national representative and coordinator of the movement for the hike in the amount of scholarships. He’s also a research fellow at the Centre of Biomedical Research, Lucknow.
He also told that “Barring the research scholars, salaries are increasing in all sectors – be it private or government, whereas the contribution of the researchers are no less for the society. With inflation and unrevised fellowships for the past four years, it has now become a struggle for survival.”
“Several meetings and frequent rounds of government offices haven’t yielded any results. We researchers have no option but to keep going to the ministry and UGC. We have visited MHRD at least 10 times but even that didn’t work out. What is unfortunate is that even in 2014 the fellowship was revised after a similar protest,” he said.
Across the county, the current situation is the same. Student researchers from prominent institutes are calling out for an increase in their scholarships. The protests are coming from centrally-funded and highly recognized institutes like IISc, IITs, NITs, and the IISERs too.
The last hike in the scholarship amount, which is given to the qualifying students, was in 2014, which was for about 1.25 lakh research scholar community. But since then, there’s not been any increase or introduction of a significant hike in the stipend granted to the scholars. They have also claimed that about 60% of these scholars support their families out of this ‘amount of scholarship for research’, given to them.
The research fellowship has been revised four times in the last 20 years. But the last increase was in 2014 only, of around 56% under the then minister for human resource development, Smriti Irani.