Fight For Stipend Intensifies: Research Scholars Petition Government Seeking Higher And Timely Disbursals

Fight For Stipend Intensifies: Research Scholars Petition Government Seeking Higher And Timely DisbursalsResearch scholars of IISER, Pune (Photo by Sanket Wankhade/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The movement for higher research fellowships and stipend is gaining momentum, with researchers across institutes in India joining hands to put pressure on the government. They have set 20 December as the deadline for the government.

A meeting was held in IIT-Bombay on Sunday to finalise the draft proposal to be sent to the Human Resource Development ministry. Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, too has come forward to support the cause, reports The Indian Express.

An IIT-B PhD scholar said that though some of them have received stipends on time, the majority was still awaiting them. He said that over 150 people from various departments had finalised the proposal, which also included demand for an 80 per cent hike, and submitted it to the director.

The delayed stipend has affected researchers under the University Grants Commission (UGC) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). From 2014, a junior researcher is paid 25,000 and a senior one 28,000.

Another major problem troubling them is the nominal housing and rental allowance (HRA) given to the 4,500-odd IIT-B researchers.

A PhD student said that HRA should be increased, keeping in view costs in a metropolis like Mumbai. He says that at present, a researcher in tier 1 and tier 4 cities draws the same HRA.

The students also point out that reducing their HRA from 30 per cent to 24 per cent while not revising other allowances under the Seventh Pay Commission was not right.

Even though K Vijaya Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser, has promised a positive outcome, but the students seem impatient. According to them, the government should not have delayed revising their already-low stipends. A student says, “We will wait till 20 December, else we will need to resort to other means to meet what is due to us.”