After a massive cut in MPhil and PhD seats at Jawaharlal Nehru University, most likely to affect prospective students coming from deprived backgrounds, the current students of the university who come from modest backgrounds are facing a crisis of their own. Students allege that they’ve not been getting fellowships since January this year, resulting in many of them not being able to pay even their hostel mess bills.
Several students have not been getting their non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship – meant for MPhil/PhD students who aren’t eligible to sit for the NET and Junior Research Fellowship (JRF) exam or aren’t able to sit for it for some other reason, and MCM (Merit-cum-Means) Scholarship – given to BA and MA students, who come from financially poor backgrounds on the basis of their income certificate.
A woman student doing her MPhil in Geography, said she hadn’t received her non-NET fellowship (Rs 5,000 per month) since January, and was unable to pay her hostel mess bill. “My parents stay in Bihar, and my father has retired. I cannot take any money from home because I don’t want to become a burden on them. This amount greatly helped me, but since it’s stopped I haven’t paid my mess bill. I’m even buying newspapers, and getting books xeroxed on credit,” she said.
Chetna Trivedi, who’s doing her MPhil in Political Science and stays in Munirka, is facing similar problems. “There are many families in which women are financially encouraged to study further. In my family, only my father works and he’s having to spend a lot of money on my ailing grandfather. In such circumstances, those Rs 5,000 are very crucial for me,” she said.
However, it’s not just the research students. MA student Soumik, had applied for his MCM scholarship for the last semester (Rs 10,000 total) in February this year but is yet to receive it. “I should be among the first to be allotted money, since I should get first semester’s scholarship before others get theirs for the second semester. But it hasn’t come. Back in Kolkata, I would buy books and manage travel expenses with the scholarship money. It’s very important for us,” he said.
JNU Student’s Union President Mohit Pandey said the UGC had stopped funds because of “vendetta politics”.
“We already know that how due to myopic policy of UGC (where recruitment of teachers is main problem) JNU has to face massive seat cut. Now fellowship cut is another blow to students. Many students are in the last months of writing their dissertations and thesis. Many have to leave for field work. But, due to some no fellowship they are facing serious hardships… Finance officer told us that there are some technical reasons due to which UGC stopped fellowship. We have also written to VC that he should take this matter seriously and pursue this matter with UGC in capacity of both- UGC member and VC, but, we did not receive any communication from them,” he said.
JNU Registrar and Vice-Chancellor did not respond to queries by The Indian Express.