Ever since news broke out about the non-National Eligibility Test (NET) fellowship being discontinued for research scholars, students across universities have risen up in protest. The Occupy UGC protest is on for over two months now and a lot of students across India is participating in the agitation.
The Media Collective group has created the video humorously explaining how the move will affect the economically weaker students and ‘how the government is planning to put India’s education sector on sale.’
Non-NET fellowships are currently available to MPhil and PhD students of 50 institutions – all central universities. While an MPhil student gets Rs 5000 per month, a PhD student gets Rs 8000 p.m.
Students protesting against the move are not demanding just the reinstatement of the fellowship but also its increase. The protest hinges on two basic interconnected planks. Firstly, protesters say this will adversely affect students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds who rely heavily on the fellowship to carry on their research.
Without the money, they will have to look for part-time work to sustain themselves which will then affect the quality of research, as the focus will be divided.
Secondly and more importantly, they see this as a part of the larger plan of the BJP government to make Indian higher education compliant with the WTO-GATS (World Trade Organisation-General Agreement on Trade in Services) requirements.