Kolkata: West Bengal government has allocated Rs 20-crore to provide fellowships to non-NET scholars pursuing research in the state universities. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told at state secretariat Nabanna on Sunday that this was being done as the University Grants Commission of the Centre has stopped fellowships for non-NET scholars.
To encourage research in the country, the previous UPA government had started giving a monthly fellowship of around Rs 8,500 to scholars for pursuing research in the government-owned universities all over the country. Narendra Modi-led NDA government discontinued the same from last year.
“During the interactions with university students at the recent administrative review meetings in the districts, several research scholars told me about the hardships that they were facing due to the stoppage of the fellowship by UGC.”
“The students have narrated with pain that many researchers do not have the money to even pay for their hostel and mess fees, and some are even faced with the prospect of abandoning their dreams of pursuing research,” the Chief Minister subsequently wrote in a Facebook post.
The Rs 20-crore has been allocated from the Rs 200-crore Swami Vivekananda Merit cum Means Scholarship fund that was created in the state Budget for 2017 -2018. The money would be utilised to provide monthly fellowship to non-NET research scholars pursuing M.Phil and Ph.D in the 15 state universities in Bengal.
The Chief Minister did not specify the amount that the scholars would get every month but assured that it would be done “through a fair and transparent selection process.”
She reasoned the move saying that many of the research scholars were first generation learners, and they needed support to pursue the dream of higher education.
“I have also written to the Union human resources development minister to re-start the non-NET fellowships for M.Phil and Ph.D scholars,” she said.