IIT Research Fellows To Hold Nationwide Protests Demanding Hike In Stipend

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New Delhi: Demanding a hike in their stipends and regular disbursal of fellowships, research scholars from India’s various premier institutes will hold nationwide protests across campuses on December 21 to mount pressure on the Ministry of Human Resource (MHRD) and the University Grants Commission (UGC).

Among those protesting are Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Indian Institute of Technology (Mumbai), Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) Pune, Bangalore University, among others.

Apart from the campus protests, they also plan an offline campaign by flooding twitter using #HikeResearchFellowship and tagging the concerned authorities. However, if all their efforts go in vain, researchers plan on sending Re 1 cheque to the Prime Minister as well.

The demands include an annual increment in fellowship in accordance to inflation and inclusion of research scholars under Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) or State Government Health Scheme (SGHS) to avail the medical facilities.

“We are doing research at these institutes but many of us don’t get any stipend. Out of the 820 institutes under the UGC, barely 65 come under the universities with potential for excellence and only they get the fellowships, the remaining are left out,” said Arghya Das, a research fellow at the International centre for Theoretical Science (ICTS).

Scholars from various institutes in Bengaluru will gather at the IISc campus and form a human chain to mark their non-violent protest. This will be replicated in other campuses in cities like Pune, Mumbai , Kolkata and Lucknow. Researchers from the national capital will gather outside the Department of Science and Technology (Ministry of Science and Technology).

In an attempt to pacify the researchers, Ashutosh Sharma, the secretary of Department of Science and technology, had tweeted on December 16 assuring them that the process for a hike in their fellowship is “fully on track.”