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Research scholars protest against delay in stipend hike, changing implementation dates

They demanded increase in stipend of PhD and Masters students by 55 per cent.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
February 19, 2015 12:45:31 am

Even as students of IIT Bombay were protesting against considerable delay by the HRD Ministry in announcing a hiked stipend for research scholars, disparity in date of implementation and poor coordination among funding agencies at the campus Wednesday, the Ministry issued a notification announcing the revised rates and stating that they will be applicable from February 1, 2015.
This has caused massive discontent among students at IIT Bombay, who have termed the notification, ‘unacceptable’.

The last fellowship hike for research scholars was implemented in April 2010. A signature campaign among students in August 2014 saw nearly 3,800 students sign on a petition, which had sought for hike in stipend and provision for annual increment in same.

“On September 29, 2014, this petition along with the signatures was handed over to HRD Minister Smriti Irani during her visit to IIT Bombay. Subsequently, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) issued notification of hike by about 55 per cent, with effect from October 1st. The stipend for UGC students was later increased by the same amount, but with effect from December 1st, 2014. Most of the students at IITs are supported by MHRD for stipend and now their notification, which is the last one to be issued, has further postponed date of implementation,” said Shubham Badjate, General Secretary, Academic Affairs (PG), IIT Bombay.

Around 350 students participated in peaceful protest Wednesday at IIT Bombay, said Badjate.

They demanded increase in stipend of PhD and Masters students by 55 per cent, with effect from October 1st, 2014, besides disbursal of revised fellowship by March end of 2015, with arrears, and provision for annual revision in fellowship. Students also called for a dedicated government official, who will be responsible for coordinating with students on behalf of ‘all existing funding agencies’ and ‘related ministers’.

“Currently, PhD students get Rs 16,000 for the first two years and subsequently Rs 18,000 for the next three years. According to the MHRD notification, the revised monthly emolument for the five years straight is Rs 25,000. How can one sustain with the same amount for five years? Poor fellowship scheme is a deterrent for meritorious students as many have additional responsibilities and family compulsions.

Hence, annual increment is a must,” he said.

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