After weeks of nation-wide protests by research scholars across India studying in various top institutions such as the IITs, AIIMS, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), the Indian Institute of Science and other central government-run universities, the government has finally announced a hike in the monthly stipend for research scholars and any personnel enrolled in any area of science and technology.
The decision is supposed to bring a sigh of relief to 60,000 research fellows in India. The hiked allowances will be effective from January 1, 2019, as per the statement released.
“The central government has enhanced the fellowship of PhD students and other research personnel enrolled in any area of science and technology, including physical and chemical sciences, engineering, mathematical sciences, agricultural sciences, life sciences, pharmacy,” the government statement said, as per PTI.
Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan had said that PhD scholars working in science and technology were the most significant contributors to India’s knowledge base for its industrial competitiveness, academic vibrancy and technology-led innovations.
As per the statement, the minister added that improving the value of PhD research cannot be a one-time exercise, but requires constant input and efforts which the government is fully committed to undertake.
Revised research scholar stipends
1. The stipend for junior research fellows (JRF) in the first two years of PhD programme was hiked by Rs 6000 they will now get Rs 31,000 per month instead of Rs 25,000.
2. The stipend for senior PhD research fellows was hiked to Rs 35,000 from Rs 28,000.
3. Scientists working on R&D projects as research associates have also received a substantial 30-35 percent hike in financial assistance, the government said.
4. Rs 54,000 per month has been fixed as the highest cap for research associated activities.
Hike much lower than demanded
The hike in the stipend of research scholars, however, is far less than what was being demanded by the protesting scholars who wanted Rs 50,000 for junior fellows and Rs 56,000 for senior researchers.
While the scholars were demanding a hike of around 60%, the government provided an allowance hike of just 20%.
Other govt announcements regarding research fellows
1. Sources from the government claimed that a set of strong financial and academic incentives were recommended for the first time to recognise and enhance the performance of research fellows.
2. The government announced that there will be a performance-based addition to the fellowship.
3. The government also recommended that PhD students be involved in undergraduate teaching and managing research infrastructure during their doctoral programme to enhance their career prospects and get better training.
4. As per the central government norms, all the research fellows are also entitled to house rent allowance.
5. Fellowship matters and all related aspects will now be handled by a recently-formed empowered inter-ministerial committee.
6. The committee will periodically examine all the fellowship matters that have a bearing on enhancing the value, quality and experience of doctoral research, including the quantum of fellowship.